We would like to respond to the Letter to the Editor published on April 6 in Spotlight News from the Kazmierczaks regarding Eden Renewables’ proposal for two community solar projects adjacent to the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. While we are pleased that the authors agree that solar is a useful energy source, we would like to correct their misleading and inaccurate statements.
Eden Renewables is a community solar developer bringing low-cost natural power to communities across New York while making a positive impact on the local environment. These solar farms will provide discounted, locally produced, clean energy to town residents, businesses and the broader community. Equally important, they will restore critical habitat for the endangered Karner blue butterfly and frosted elfin butterfly alongside the generation of clean energy.
Extensive independent ecological surveys demonstrate that under a restorative management plan the land could support the unique northern sandplain grassland habitat. We aim to develop and restore 70 acres of mixed-use land into six distinct ecological communities from prairie grasslands to wetland hardwoods consistent with Albany Pine Bush ecology. This will substantially enhance biodiversity, carbon sequestration and educational opportunities.
Our experts recommend that some existing woodland should be restored to northern sandplain grassland of higher ecological value. This will require a small area of trees and brush to be replaced with more beneficial habitat for the overall community.
The authors also allege that we have been “bad neighbors” at other solar projects in Coxsackie, Bethlehem, Duanesburg and Glen. This is untrue. We do not have any projects in Bethlehem or Coxsackie. Our Town of Glen project was not contentious and is being conflated with a much larger (250 MW) solar farm by another developer. Our Duanesburg project involved a few people mainly concerned with visual impact which we addressed with new boundary planting as part of our unanimous approval.
Last October Eden met with the Kazmierczaks at their home to introduce the project and listen to any concerns. We proposed several mitigations which have been included in the site plans we submitted to the town boards. A particular concern was whether our project would impact on their personal hunting and recreational use of the property; as a show of good faith we discussed formalizing their continued access to some areas.
Following our meeting with the Kazmierczaks last fall, we continued to correspond with them by email. They expressed further concerns at the February Colonie Planning Board meeting, which we have taken on board, re-routing our proposed walking trail further from their property.
We prioritize neighbor outreach and communications at all our projects, and will soon be writing to the neighbors inviting them to in-person and virtual open house consultations.
We do understand the Kazmierczaks’ concerns and believe we have taken steps to mitigate them and be good neighbors. Our proposed development of two community solar farms — cutting energy bills, restoring important northern sandplain grassland habitats and providing a local supply of clean energy — will be of much wider benefit to all the residents of Colonie.