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Helps communities locate best places to site new solar energy projects while protecting key natural, agricultural assets
HUDSON VALLEY — Helping communities find the best places to site solar energy — and support New York’s ambitious efforts to confront climate change — Scenic Hudson has launched a practical, interactive mapping tool. Using Geographic Information System mapping layers, the tool identifies communities’ natural resources — such as forests, agricultural lands and wetlands — and overlays them with important characteristics for solar development, such as gentle slopes and distance to transmission lines. It will enable communities that are considering planning and zoning for future solar development, evaluating proposals by developers or identifying preferred sites for solar to make smart decisions that bring clean energy to residents while minimizing impacts to natural and community assets.
The tool was made possible by generous funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties.
Tool will help communities reap environmental, economic benefits
With climate change looming as the greatest threat to the region’s open spaces, farms, parks and people, Scenic Hudson is committed to helping reduce New York State’s greenhouse gas emissions by leading the transition to renewable energy sources in the Hudson Valley.
To achieve the “70 x 30” goal of New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act — having renewable energy generate 70 percent of the electricity consumed in New York by 2030 — the state expects to add 6,000 megawatts of solar energy on residential, commercial, industrial and municipal buildings by 2025. However, it is likely that significant amounts of utility-scale solar also will be necessary to reach the “70 x 30” target.
This means that over the next five years solar developers will be actively searching for prospective sites to build solar power facilities. Scenic Hudson’s new mapping tool provides communities with the opportunity to reap both the economic and environmental benefits of solar energy while making New York a better place to live, work and enjoy the outdoors.
Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan said, “Scenic Hudson’s new interactive solar mapping tool is important not only for Hudson Valley communities committed to confronting climate change, but it provides an innovative and practical template for regions nationally — and around the world — to respond responsibly to this crisis. Developing clean energy is essential, but not at the expense of our planet’s irreplaceable natural resources. This tool paves the way for having both. We thank the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation for supporting its creation.”
Scenic Hudson Senior Vice President Steve Rosenberg said, “Scenic Hudson’s new interactive solar mapping tool will increase the ability of communities and developers to protect the region’s scenery, agricultural soils and ecology, while pinpointing locations that will maximize the efficiency of new solar facilities. As a result, it should expedite smart development of solar energy, helping to make the Hudson Valley a model of how a region can respond to the challenge of climate change.”
Program Director for the Environment at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Sacha Spector said, “Across the country, tools that help communities and decision makers come to consensus about where to locate new renewable energy infrastructure are an essential element of accelerating the clean energy transition while also minimizing its impacts on landscapes and nature. We’re proud to support this important model in New York’s Hudson Valley that helps the region’s communities be an active part of the solution to climate change.”
Map part of suite of Scenic Hudson solar informational materials
The interactive mapping tool is part of How To Solar Now, a suite of instructional materials created by Scenic Hudson to help decision-makers and community members learn about solar energy and ultimately facilitate its development. It promotes accelerated renewable energy development while simultaneously preserving important natural resources and community character. Its overall goal is to help the Hudson Valley become a regional model and leader in responding to the climate crisis.
How To Solar Now provides information on siting, zoning, mapping and the successful development of solar energy systems on everything from landfills to rooftops. It includes Clean Energy, Green Communities: A Guide to Siting Renewable Energy in the Hudson Valley as well as a new, comprehensive solar zoning handbook, Solar Ready, Climate Resilient: Best Practices and Recommendations for Solar Zoning in the Hudson Valley.
Scenic Hudson will demonstrate the use of the Solar Mapping Tool in a webinar at noon on Wednesday, December 9, as part of the Hudson River Estuary Program’s ongoing series “Conservation and Land Use 101.” Those interested can register here.
In addition, Scenic Hudson will host a virtual conference to demonstrate and discuss the Solar Mapping Tool beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 21, 2021. Interested participants can visit scenichudson.org/events for registration details.