NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — National Grid is formally submitting its plan to build New York’s largest solar energy farm in Shoreham.
The $100 million project would be located on a 350-acre wooded area just west of the decommissioned Shoreham nuclear power plant.
As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, for more than 20 years the decommissioned power plant remained off limits, the gates were locked.
It was never open because community opposition was that intense.
Now, a Florida based solar developer wants to clear the land owned by national grid.
National Grid and NextEra Energy Resources said the solar farm would provide enough power for 13,000 homes and hope to have it operational by 2020.
Residents in the neighboring tree line communities are taking sides.
“I believe they should put it in an industrial center. The trees are beautiful and they’re never gonna be replaced. They’re talking about the largest solar farm going on,” Rudy Princi said.
“I don’t think it’s a bad idea. If it can help supply clean energy to the area I’m all for it,” Matt Nappo said.
The solar developer said the trees would be re-planted, but even environmentalists are divided over the proposal which is being considered by the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA).
“Apart from the natural beauty , the trees do help provide oxygen and remove carbon dioxide. They provide a habitat for birds and animals,” Richard Amper, Long Island Pine Barrens Society said.
“Our position is using the site for solar is highly preferable to using it for another fossil fuel power plant or a large industrial port, both of which have been considered,” Harry Soma, Citizens Campaign for the Environment said.
The Citizens Campaign for the Environment favors the solar farm because it could easily plug its energy into the power system already built for the closed nuclear plant, but town officials weren’t buying it.
“We don’t think the land should be clear cut. We’re opposed to it, and it goes against our zoning,” Ed Romaine (R) Brookhaven Town Supervisor said.
Town officials said they’re planning to put solar panels atop the town hall roof and in the parking lot, an approach they said LIPA should pursue instead.
The solar developer said if LIPA approved the giant array it would provide upwards of 175 local jobs.