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Upstate solar farm's cloudy proposal

Sep 05, 2015 12:05 am
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Public News Service reports that a Vermont-based company has proposed building one of the largest solar farms in upstate New York's Madison County, which it says could save residents millions in energy costs. But the developer, groSolar, is getting push-back from Oneida residents near the proposed site, who fear it could lower their property values and have filed a lawsuit against the city. Katherine Nadeau, program director of Renewable New York, says both sides must find common ground for the solar farm to be built. "In order for these things to really work, it's got to be something the community can get behind," says Nadeau. "We're really hopeful the community can come to some resolution on this, because from Renewable New York and Catskill Mountainkeeper's perspective, more clean energy is more jobs, less fossil fuels, and is better for our communities." Residents opposed to the project also say the city did not adequately inform them about their plans for the land. The developer says the 2.8 megawatt project would save Oneida residents up to $6 million over a 25-year period and would cost the city nothing, thanks to a state grant and tax incentives. Gary Skulnik, groSolar director of marketing, believes the local concerns about the project affecting property values aren't based on facts. "There is absolutely zero evidence anywhere that solar decreases property values," says Skulnik. "The state of Massachusetts did a nationwide survey of Internet sources and could not find a single source that showed any decrease in home value." To address neighbors' concerns, Skulnik says groSolar has agreed to evaluate other sites in the city of Oneida, even though officials there have said they prefer the proposed site.