After Community Calls for Reevaluation, Ridgeway Planning Board Places Moratorium on Solar Farm off Swett Road

Heidi Marciniak, a resident of Ridgeway and leading figure in a call to pump the brakes on what many see as inadequately tested ‘electric energy storage systems’ technology, canvased the area close to the proposed building site.

Using questions provided by the WNYObserver, Marciniak worked with her neighbors to answer a list of five questions relevant to the project:

1. What is the biggest safety hazard you see bringing this tech to our area?

“Our concern for safety hazards is that both the residents and the town board have a lack of knowledge or information about solar panels and battery storage. We are all unaware of the risk factors and long-term effects these would have on our community. The idea of the battery storage facility alone raises many red flags. The battery would be behind a locked fence. If a disaster were to occur who would respond and how can they access it? Our local firemen are not trained to handle a disaster of this magnitude. We feel that the town is acting on this prematurely. That’s we encouraged the town to adopt a moratorium so this could be studied thoroughly. The safety of our town should be at the forefront.”

2. Is there a way in which this could be done that you could feasibly support? (different location, less panels, etc.)

“It is absurd to put these solar arrays, especially ones with battery storage, directly next to residences. The town should have larger setbacks from properties and the road. The solar array proposal for Swett Road shows the battery being placed right next to the road and near residences.  The current law does not give much distance from a resident’s property line as it is. These companies are known to ask for variances so the town will allow them to set up shop even closer to the property line. They already tried this with the proposal for Swett Road. Simply put, these do not belong near anyone’s home!”

3. Do you have a specific message for the planning board/town board for Ridgeway?

“The town boards should make sure they are fully aware of all aspects regarding solar panels and battery storage. It is very important to be well educated in this matter.  Public safety should be the main concern. The town boards need to ensure that residents are being well represented and well protected. That is what they were elected to do for us.”

4. Do you find these installations to be unsightly?

“Yes. They plan to put in a metal fence with barbed wire at the top resembling the fences around prisons. The fence is not much taller than the panels. The fence surely doesn’t block the battery. The battery is equivalent to the size of a tractor trailer. They also plan to put shrubs in the front that are spaced far apart. It would take years for these to reach full maturity and still would not be a complete block. We do not believe the property would be maintained on the outside of the fence as it appears in their proposal. We are also concerned about glare from the solar panels and noise.

5. Is there anything I haven’t asked that you would like to clarify on this issue?

“We want to clarify that we are not saying that we’re anti renewable energy. We are saying that there is a more appropriate place for solar panels and that place is not near residences. There is a lot of vacant land that is more suitable for this. We are also concerned that this would not be the only battery proposed for Ridgeway. The proposal for Swett Road is just the beginning There are others in the works. If these batteries were safe, then why are there no others in all of New York State? “

DG New York CS, LLC is the company attempting to build the solar field and energy storing installations.  Often these deals will qualify local governments for extra money they can stick into the general fund.  With hat being said; it’s important to note that these funds can easily be wiped out by the highly expensive repairs, and the eventual replacement of these battery systems. 

DG New York CS, LLC is a subsidiary formed in 2018 to promote and equip renewable energy technology within New York State.  The parent company is listed as NextEra Energy Resources of Juniper, Florida.  https://www.nexteraenergyresources.com/