Solar developers have secured roughly 3,500 acres of residential and agricultural land in the town and village of Coxsackie and Athens NY, which represents almost 25% of land east of the Thruway.
This map shows land secured or proposed by developers, who plan to build plants in parts of the marked areas. Note that this map represents seven of the nine projects proposed for Coxsackie. Project areas and the exact locations of panels within the marked areas are subject to change as developers make adjustments to panel siting and mitigation. Again, Saving Greene only opposes the Greene County Solar Facility, but we are concerned with the sheer scale of development proposed for the town.
The marked areas will not be completely covered in solar panels. We are showing you facility areas based on actual project documents and maps, and thus far only one small site has received approval. Some developers have taken steps to preserve the natural resources of our area. For example, Hudson Energy plans to address the environmental issues we have described by conserving large areas of grassland habitat for winter raptor populations, including the state-endangered short-eared owl, and protecting the Flint Mine Hill historical district.
Hecate Greene’s current approach to raptor habitat is to expect that the birds will manage to hunt voles and mice among the solar arrays. Both the short-eared owl and northern harrier hunt by coursing low to the ground and by using their acute hearing to locate prey. Inverter noise, while not expected to be audible to humans outside the developed areas, seems likely to affect both the birds’ ability to hunt and disrupt the behavior of prey in those areas. Fewer than 100 short-eared owls are left in New York State: most are winter visitors, but the state-threatened northern harrier has been observed year-round in Coxsackie, and short-eared owls have been seen by local residents during the summer as well.
To our knowledge, the total generating capacity of these proposed projects (over 175 MW) represents the largest amount of solar development in a single residential township in upstate NY and possibly the Northeast.
View the Projects:
You may have spotted “Solar Saves Farms” signs around the Hecate project sites. Here’s what the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets says about solar development and farming:
“The useful life of solar arrays is approximately 20 to 40 years. The Department considers the conversion of agricultural land to a nonagricultural use for up to 40 years a permanent conversion. The Department is primarily concerned with the percent of agricultural land in the project area that is being converted to nonagricultural use and the impact on the agricultural viability in the Facility Area.” (D.A.M.: Comments on the Greene County Solar Facility PSS)
In other words, solar doesn’t save farms. Solar has the potential to eliminate farms as well as take large portions of them out of production.. While other food-producing regions around the country experiencing droughts as a result of climate change, the Northeast is expected to hotter and wetter in the future. We can’t afford to keep lose prime farmland to solar development.