Solar Siting in Bedford
Dear Community Members,
Proposals to develop large-scale ground mount solar arrays are currently being explored by property owners in the Town of Bedford (at West Patent Elementary School and Baldwin Road). These proposals have generated a wide range of community viewpoints about the advantages and disadvantages of developing ground mount solar in our community.
Bedford 2030 believes that a framework for evaluating these and future solar proposals must be put in place for our community to make informed decisions. Smart solar siting that takes into account all relevant factors – greenhouse gas reductions, land and natural resource values, and social impacts – must all be considered.
We have published a Bedford Solar Framework Recommendation that explores key issues relevant to solar siting in the Town of Bedford and proposes a path forward for solar projects.
Bedford 2030 would like to facilitate a working group that includes representatives from the Planning Department, Planning Board, Conservation Board, Town Board, Bedford 2030, and other select subject matter experts to develop a Solar Framework for evaluating projects. The Bedford Solar Framework would take into consideration our community’s new 2030 Climate Action Plan and goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2030 as well as the broader issue of appropriate and considerate land development as outlined in the Comprehensive Plan.
Below is a summary of key considerations for a Solar Framework. Our full Solar Framework Recommendation document can be found here. Please stay tuned for updates. In the meantime, we ask that you review this information and send any thoughts to our Executive Director at email@example.com.
Key Considerations for a Bedford Solar Framework
- Bedford’s 2030 Climate Action Plan includes two priority strategies for reducing greenhouse gases that are relevant for evaluating solar projects:
1) Increase locally generated renewable energy.
2) Sequester carbon via the natural environment (trees, plants, and soil).
- We should consider our Town’s role in supporting the New York State goal to generate 70% of electricity in the grid from renewable sources by 2030.
- The Bedford Solar Framework needs to include consideration for the preservation of natural resources.
- In evaluating a solar site, we need to understand the value of the ecosystem services that the land provides. Land can provide a range of benefits from cultural (beauty, tourism, recreation), to supporting biodiverse systems and wildlife habitat, food for humans and other species, flood and erosion control, fresh water and water purification, and carbon storage, all of which should be taken into consideration when determining the appropriateness of a solar site. Additionally, the decision-making framework needs to include how the development and ongoing operation would impact these ecosystem services.
- Look for major factors — like specific land use characteristics in the area surrounding a proposed site that differentiate potential sites, so not all sites are treated equally.
- Compare all of this to the carbon emissions that are being saved by locally generated renewable energy.
- Evaluate other benefits: resiliency, health, economic.
- Incorporate mitigation strategies that can offset negative impacts of the solar project.
- Track new developments in renewable energy and other technologies and how they might impact solar siting in Bedford.