The Special Town Board Meeting for the Solar Review Study was called to order at 7:00pm by Supervisor Robert Clement leading the Pledge of Allegiance. In attendance were Councilman Ronald Panek, James Duyssen, and Town Clerk Barbara Radley; absent were Councilman Robert Pacer and Donald Mullen. Special Guest was Sandra Swanson, Chair of the Solar Review Committee.
Also in attendance were Steven Tanner from CPL engineering firm, Sharon Jasinski, Len Jasinski, Phyllis Darling, Linda Call, Richard Costa, Rhonda Rittenhouse-Norton, Cathy and Dale Worthington, Dan Huntington from BW Solar, Andrew Darling, Amy Swanson, Harold Leanos, Bernard Corcoran, Kathy Glade, and Barbara Mullen.
Supervisor Clement introduced Sandra Swanson, Chair of the Solar Review Committee. Sandra then introduced Bernard Corcoran a member of the committee who brought corn and wheat to symbolize the agriculture industry in Stafford; Len Jasinski was present and a member of the committee. Bernie is a farmer here in Stafford, an Len is a retired engineer.
The committee consisted of members, Bob Clement, Town Supervisor, Bernie Corcoran, Len Jasinski, Lowell Ling, a self-employed man who brought a wealth of knowledge also, LuAnn McKenzie also a farmer who resigned due to time constraints, Colleen O’Connor, a priest and concerned citizen, Lindsay Yoder an architect and Sandra Swanson, Chair, a concerned citizen as well.
The solar Law was written after the Solar Review Committee finished their study and was decided that solar arrays only belong in the Industrial Zones of the Town of Stafford to align with the Comprehensive Plan for the health, safety, and welfare of ALL citizens of Stafford.
The committee worked on Facts vs Opinions. An example of this is Al Gore in 1988 gave an old and incorrect opinion of Global Warming claiming the CO2 emissions were a catastrophe. There was public money put into studies and that was morphed into climate change with the EPA involved with public health, motor vehicles and engines. This has since been proven wrong, CO2 is not harmful and is necessary to sustain life. There is a 1500-year cycle on average proven with the ice course studies in the history of civilizations in course of temperatures.
Councilman Panek then explained that the study ended in 2018; the Solar Law was made from a modified version of the North Carolina Solar Law. This was done by looking at their law line by line and decided what was pertinent to the Town of Stafford. They went from thirty pages to eighteen pages. Our attorney advised that we should use the New York SEQR format rather than trying to anticipate failures as the North Carolina Law tried to do. We have retained the firm of Clark Patterson Lee to guide us through the SEQR process and will make sure everything is done correctly.
The Solar Law was written in June of 2019 and adopted, the SEQR is the next step and especially important. We expect the final SEQR to be ten pages and very thorough. Steven Tanner was present from Clark Patterson Lee; he will help with the SEQR process with his knowledge of the subject.
The main parts of the Solar Law are to require a permit, require a maintenance plan, require decommissioning plan, require approval of environmental and economic impacts on the town, and property guarantee program.
There were questions about the setbacks and variance given to that. The Zoning Board of Appeals heard arguments about the setback requirements to BW Solar. It was told that the Zoning Board of Appeals can hear these arguments and if they find a hardship for the applicants, a change can be made on an individual basis, and not change the law.
In the law, the only place a Solar Array can be placed is in an Industrial Zone. Stafford has two Industrial Zones, one on Main Road at the Hanson Plant and one on Batavia Stafford Townline Rd.
This is to have like zoning together; not to ban Solar but to have the solar where the transmission lines are so that like zoning can take place.
Next Tuesday will be the discussion of Part 2 of the Study. New York State and the overreaching powers that they have with bigger projects in the state. Along with this, the upcoming project from Buckley Rd. to the Country Club was discussed. This is a 25-Megawatt project and will be controlled by the state; we will have no say in that project because of the size.
Sandra Swanson wishes to acknowledge the other speakers who were able to assist the Town in preparing this study; they include the following:
Matt McCampbell, CEO of Oatka Milk and on the NYSERDA Board and on the NYS Soil Specialist and involved with the Ag and Markets industry.
Mike Savrola from the Ag and Markets spoke to the committee of the microorganisms being harmed by electromagnetic energy.
Dennis Vacco is a lawyer and former State District Attorney from a farming family; he warned about the contracts.
Dave Stetzer walked from Fargo Rd. to Townline Rd. with measurements studying physical health and ground currents. His finding was that it is too dangerous to walk this path with the stray currents that are there now.
The New York State Energy Plan is to reduce Greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and Solar Energy is one way to get this done. It has been proven that CO2 is not a detriment to the environment.
The Economic Statements have been made, Solar is expensive and not effective in Western New York; the most effective areas in the US are below the 35-degree line, which is south of the lower part of North Carolina.
The University of Buffalo conducted the Sunshine Report which states there are three strikes against solar, 1-it is intermittent, 2-it dilutes quickly, 3-it is expensive. Also, it uses 75-100 times more land to create electricity and must be subsidized. this is a taxpayer supported project and will create higher bills through the taxes to your energy bills.
According to BW Solar website ad the mission is to have an active role in energy transmission and empower communities on clean energy. This is a private shipping company with headquarters in Singapore and Oslo. They are a worldwide tanker market for oil based in China. this is not a small company based in Canada which has an office in Rochester, NY.
Next week we will discuss Book 2 of the Solar Study; this is more specific to the law. Sandy encouraged all to bring a friend to the meeting so that more people can be enlightened on the Solar Study and the Solar Law.
Councilman Panek made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 8:48pm, second by Councilman Duyssen and passed.