Solar farms continue proliferating in region in spite of economic slowdown
The solar farms keep coming, undeterred by a pandemic economy.
A crush of solar projects that began inundating planning boards in the Hudson Valley and Catskills a few years ago has not abated with the business slowdown, and more are coming to fruition. Among the latest to be built: a 2.8-megawatt array that blanketed a 23-acre field off Route 52 in the Town of Montgomery, just outside the Village of Walden.
As it turns out, that is just one of eight community solar farms awaiting approval or already operating in Montgomery, a hot spot in the region for the booming solar industry.
All told, 91 such projects have been built or proposed or are under construction in Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties, promising 288 megawatts of combined power, according to an inventory the Times Herald-Record obtained from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
Thousands of homes on solar
More than a third of those solar farms – 36 – had been completed when the authority last updated its records. According to that data, those finished projects are producing up to 93 megawatts of electricity – enough to power roughly 14,000 homes.
Goshen is another solar boom town. Its planning board already was reviewing four projects before the pandemic hit. Two more have arrived since then: one off Maple Avenue and another off Pulaski Highway, each large enough to produce five megawatts – a step up from the usual size of the earliest projects in the region.
One recently built project on Route 211 in Mount Hope started up in May. That 2.7-megawatt solar farm was the seventh by Clearway Community solar to begin operating in New York, and the fourth in the service area of Orange and Rockland Utilities.
The solar farms, which are built with state subsidies meant to expand the use of green energy, cater to electric customers who support that cause or want to lower their utility bills, but can’t or don’t want to put solar panels on their roofs. Thousands of panels in each farm harvest the sun’s energy and pump it into the power grid. Customers sign up for subscriptions that are reflected in their monthly utility bills.