RHINEBECK, NY – A planning consultant is asking city council members to draft revised community solar bylaws that would allow panels to produce more electricity on smaller plots.
Planning consultant James Levy said in a videoconference on Monday that the current 0.1 megawatt limit needed to be increased by 5 megawatts to be profitable.
“Community solar allows the panels to be sold to the public, essentially making it a public installation…not a private operation,” he said.
“It allows someone who is a renter or someone who cannot.. install solar power in their residence or on their property to still be able to install solar panels,” Levy said. “The city wants to support clean green energy…while providing ownership options for residents.”
Under the proposed revisions, officials would set installation limits of 36,000 square feet.
“The city’s view of solar energy should really focus on location, appearance, line of sight and ecological impact…all of which are within the realm of the Planning Council,” Levy said. .
Other revisions to the existing code would include:
• Have encroachment into environmentally sensitive areas “limited to the greatest extent possible”;
• Abolition of limits on the amount of leased property concerned;
• Change the wording that “allows secondary agricultural uses” to have agricultural uses as an “encouraged” secondary use;
• Authorize lighting for the safety of installations;
• Removing the requirement for reviews by the Planning Board after a site plan has been approved; and
• Have a tree planting program to replace trees that are removed at installation sites.
Board members expect the proposal to be incorporated into a bill by the end of March before setting a public hearing on the revisions.