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  • Writer's pictureTiana Starks

Plan to keep solar panels off farmland bolsters push for renewable energy goals

Updated: Jul 13, 2020

The latest call for renewable energy projects in New York comes with a sweetener for companies that promise to steer clear of farmland while installing solar panels or wind turbines across the state.

If renewable companies avoid overlapping with land of agricultural importance, their project will get bonus points that bump them up the list of 20 projects that will win state backing over the next few months, according to a request for proposals sent out by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority this week.

“With this action, we will continue to capitalize on our natural assets, expand economic opportunities and lay the groundwork for cleaner, greener New York for generations to come,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

Cuomo says the new projects will spur $1.5 billion in private investment and create 1,000 jobs.

Environmental groups such as the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater and The Nature Conservancy applauded the move. Behind the scenes, both groups have encouraged the administration to weigh the impact on farmland while it adds renewable sources of power to the state’s energy grid.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” said Manna Jo Greene, Clearwater’s environmental director. “We should not be paving over prime farmland. Taking the low-hanging fruit is never good and short-sighted.”

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