Citizen’s Campaign for the Environment Testimony on Shoreham Solar Commons

2015.08.06 - Testimony on Shoreham Solar Commons_Page_1

Brookhaven Town Board
Farmingville, NY
August 6, 2015

Testimony by Jordan Christensen, Program Coordinator
Citizens Campaign for the Environment

My name is Jordan Christensen and I represent Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE).
CCE is an 80,000 member non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization that works to protect
public health and our natural environment. CCE works throughout the state to advance
renewable energy goals and the use of renewable energy technologies. I am here today to
strongly support both the Model Commercial Solar Code and the Shoreham Solar
Commons Project.

Solar energy projects, like the one proposed in Shoreham, have proven successful across the state
and nation at creating local jobs, reducing air pollution, stabilizing the energy grid, and helping
meet peak summer energy demands. The proposed Shoreham project would generate 24.9MW
of solar energy, enough to power 3,500 homes, which would offset 29,000 tons of greenhouse
gas emissions each year. Removing tens of thousands of tons of carbon dioxide, sulfur oxide,
and nitrogen oxide will improve our air quality and reduce public health impacts such as asthma,
cancer, respiratory and heart problems.

It is CCE’s position that solar farms will offset the use of Long Island’s existing antiquated
fossil fuel power plants such as Port Jefferson and Northport. Because this solar farm would
be a “must-run” facility, the grid will prioritize the solar energy generated over existing fossil
fuel fired plants and help Long Island get closer to the goal of having 50% renewable energy by
2030 set forth in the New York State Energy Plan. In the face of global climate change, we need
to be taking local actions to advance renewable energy. The Town of Brookhaven has already
committed to advancing energy efficiency and renewable energy with the “Green Homes” and
“Go Solar” programs. Approving this project is the necessary next step.

From and environment and economic standpoint, the solar farm would be beneficial and prudent
use of this land. The golf course and sod farm both relied heavily on fertilizers and pesticides,
contributing to pollution of our groundwater and surface waters. As opposed to the previous
uses, or the development alternatives, building a solar farm would allow clean water to recharge
the aquifer, protecting residential drinking water. In addition to the environmental benefits, the
solar farm will create 175 jobs and increase tax revenue, since Shoreham Solar Commons will
pay taxes 10 times higher than what the golf course currently pays. This money could go to the
school system, and given that this project would ensure the land is not developed for residential
use, would guarantee no addition burden on the school district budget from this project.

This project complies with the 2012 Brookhaven Land Use Plan and LIPA already has the
necessary infrastructure in the area, making this an ideal location for solar energy generation.
Although there have been concerns about glare and disturbance to the community, the project
will be set back 100 feet from property lines in accordance with the land use plan, and will be
heavily landscaped. There will be 8-10 foot high drought-resistant, native vegetation, in addition
to the already existing natural butlers and mature trees, to block the 10 foot high solar panels.
Plus, solar panels are designed to absorb light, causing less glare then most reflective surfaces,
including flat water. The Shoreham Solar Commons project will positively impact the
economy, environment, and community. CCE urges you to approve the proposal as a critical
step in achieving renewable energy goals.

This project complies with the 2012 Brookhaven Land Use Plan and LIPA already has the
necessary infrastructure in the area, making this an ideal location for solar energy generation.
Although there have been concerns about glare and disturbance to the community, the project
will be set back 100 feet from property lines in accordance with the land use plan, and will be
heavily landscaped. There will be 8-10 foot high drought-resistant, native vegetation, in addition
to the already existing natural butlers and mature trees, to block the 10 foot high solar panels.
Plus, solar panels are designed to absorb light, causing less glare then most reflective surfaces,
including flat water. The Shoreham Solar Commons project will positively impact the
economy, environment, and community. CCE urges you to approve the proposal as a critical
step in achieving renewable energy goals.