The town of Duanesburg will hold a public hearing today on whether it should implement a one-year moratorium on solar energy systems including battery energy storage systems.
The possible moratorium comes as the town continues to navigate the development process with Oak Hill Solar, which originally planned two five-megawatt solar arrays on a 40-acre site on Duanesburg Road.
Supervisor Roger Tidball said Oak Hill Solar will not be included in the moratorium, as it is a grandfathered project and is already in the midst of requesting variances for its solar project.
Rather, Tidball said the moratorium will extend to any new projects because the town doesn’t want to try and juggle other solar projects at the moment until it knows more about solar in general. He said Oak Hill Solar is essentially the town’s guinea pig.
“This is a pretty big solar project,” Tidball said. “We wanted to make sure this project is done right from top to bottom. There’s a million new things we’re learning about the project.”
However, at least two residents want the moratorium to include Oak Hill.
Pam Rowling owns 71 acres of hay land on Youngs Road, which abuts the Oak Hill project. She is unable to attend the meeting but will be sending a letter of support for the moratorium. In the letter, she said, she will also urge the town to include the Oak Hill project.
She said the project started off simple, but could drastically change if variances for items like energy battery storage of lithium batteries and the height of the solar panels are granted. She’s said she’s concerned with runoff from the Oak Hill Solar property into her fields.
“I really don’t think this should be allowed to go through until people are a lot more educated,” she said.
She said she wanted to build on the land but with the project continuing to move forward she has thought twice about that idea.
Lynne Brunning’s property on Duanesburg Road also abuts the project site. She will attend the meeting via Zoom, she said.
She wants the town to include Oak Hill in the moratorium, she said, because they’re proposing four battery energy storage sites and she has safety concerns about the storage.
There have been instances of such items catching fire all over the nation, she said. She said she wonders how the town, which is made up of volunteer fire departments, will be able to respond to or control a fire should it happen. She also said any possible fires could take a while to be fully extinguished, causing firefighters to remain at scenes for hours.
“This is something that a rural town with a volunteer fire department — we simply do not have the manpower,” she said.
Tidball said the board likely will vote on the moratorium after the public hearing.
Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at 518-478-3320 or [email protected]
To attend the meeting at 7 p.m.
In person at Town Hall, 5853 Western Turnpike
Via Zoom at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88347914369
Meeting ID: 883 4791 4369