The Yorktown Town Board adopted new laws last week regulating solar panel arrays and solar power storage devices.
With the new regulations in place, Yorktown becomes the first community in Westchester County to provide a framework for property owners who want to install energy storage systems.
“We are moving Yorktown to the frontlines of renewable energy by facilitating the installation of carbon-reducing energy devices in an intelligent and orderly fashion,” said Supervisor Matt Slater. “Reducing Yorktown’s carbon footprint is critical as we face increasingly violent storms that scientists tell us are caused by global warming. We all have a role to play in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.”
Yorktown’s actions align with the 2015 New York State Energy Plan, whose goals include a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels and 50% energy generation from renewable sources.
“This really goes into the whole climate change issue,” Councilwoman Alice Roker said after the vote.
On Monday, Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul joined representatives of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), IPPsolar LLC (IPPsolar) and Urstadt Biddle Properties Inc. (UBP), along with local elected officials, to unveil a major renewable energy milestone project behind Staples on Route 202 in Yorktown as part of New York’s celebration of Climate Week,
which takes places from September 21-27.
The first-of-its kind project, dubbed the UBP Yorktown Community Solar Plus Energy Storage Project, is one of 50 planned statewide that supports Governor Andrew Cuomo’s nation-leading climate goals, as outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.
“This is a very important milestone,” Hochul said. “The effects of climate change are real. Westchester is always ahead of the game.”
NYSERDA committed $800,000 to the project, which always includes Tesla charging stations located on the property near Dunkin Donuts.
“This model is one that can be reciprocated throughout New York State,” said Doreen Harris, Acting CEO and President of NYSERDA.
Prior to the laws’ adoption, Yorktown’s Town Code did not provide a method of approving or disapproving of solar projects other than roof mounted solar panels. The Town Board has been presented with several solar projects that required the new solar laws, including IBM’s Solar Carport, and a similar proposal at the Granite Knolls Sports Complex, which could potentially generate revenue for the Town.
Town Board members noted that all of Yorktown’s environmental and land use ordinances still apply to proposed solar array projects.
“This is not anybody can do whatever they want,” said Councilman Vishnu Patel. “We are going through the same process.”
“Yorktown is leading the way on renewable energy and storage systems,” said Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “As we head towards Climate Week, we need more communities like Yorktown to implement policies like these that reduce their carbon footprint and slash emissions. NYLCV commends Yorktown Supervisor Matt Slater for his leadership.”
Swarnav Pujari, chairman of Yorktown’s Climate Smart Communities Task Force, lauded the passage of both pieces of legislation saying, “This was a collaborative process which the Climate Smart Communities Task Force was proud to participate in. Yorktown now stands as a leader on renewable energy while ensuring that the integrity of our neighborhoods stay intact.”
The new solar laws complement Yorktown’s new partnership with Sustainable Westchester to bring affordable solar power to residents. Sustainable Westchester is a nonprofit organization that works with local governments on a variety of environmental efforts. The nonprofit will help Yorktown evaluate enrolling its electricity accounts in community solar projects for financial savings and positive environmental impact.