Sustainable PR client Cipriani Energy Group is approved by the Town of Guilderland to install a solar farm:

GUILDERLAND — The Town of Guilderland Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously approved the variances that will allow a 2.375 megawatt (MW) planned solar array on a capped landfill in Guilderland Center. In August 2019, the Town of Guilderland made the pledge to be a Climate Smart Community, and approving this solar project is a step toward shifting to renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions.

Cipriani Energy Group and its affiliate Cipriani Construction Corp will begin construction on the solar installation in Spring 2022. According to company Chief Operating Officer Chris Stroud, the panels will be producing clean, emission free electricity by mid-2022, and National Grid customers who subscribe to the community solar program affiliated with this project will see an average of 10% reduction on their residential energy bills.

New York has aggressively pursued legislation to stem climate change. The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act), signed into law in 2019, requires the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40% by 2030 and commits to 100% zero-emission electricity by 2040.

Community solar installations not only help the state meet its mandate, but they are also an asset for local communities. The projects create revenue by selling energy shares as subscriptions to local residents, businesses and municipalities. This creates multiple benefits for the community including credit or tax benefits on subscribers’ energy bills and support for the local economy. The energy is generated by solar panels at an off-site location, giving community members equal opportunity and access to clean energy even if they are unable to install solar panels on their own property.

In Guilderland, residents expressed strong support for the Cipriani Energy project, sending letters to the Town website, as well as voicing support for the array at the Town Zoning Board of Appeals meeting during the public comment period on October 14th. A resident articulated the sentiment of many in the community with a letter stating, “Placing a solar array over an existing Brownfield site, is just the kind of solar siting we would look forward to now and in the future.”

Cipriani Energy Group has projects pending in other communities in the Capital Region including Bethlehem and Malta. Many factors are considered when choosing locations for a solar array, most notably the fact that they can only be built on properties with access to power lines with remaining hosting capacity. This means that the ideal location and placement of a solar array varies in each community.

The Malta project will require cutting 5 acres (about 4 football fields) of trees in the forested area off Malta Avenue near the baseball field. While most of the construction industry performs tree removal using a method called ‘grubbing’ in which stumps and roots are removed after cutting, Cipriani’s preferred method is to cut trees flush with the ground leaving the root structure intact. According to Stroud “This creates far less soil disturbance, helping the forest reestablish itself from those remaining roots more quickly at the end of the life of the solar project when the panels are removed. We also replant seedlings in conjunction with our projects, work to avoid interference with existing parks and public spaces, and ensure that project visibility is limited.”

More projects are on the way. The same day that the Guilderland Zoning Board of Appeals approved the parcel there, Cipriani Project Managers were already preparing a presentation for another local municipality interested in pursuing renewable energy. Approval in Guilderland demonstrates that businesses, local government and the community can work together toward New York State’s ambitious goal of 6,000MW of Solar by 2025.

This was originally published by HudsonValley360 on November 8, 2021.