OLEAN, NY – Rep. Tom Reed visited Olean Tuesday morning to see firsthand the city’s newest energy projects.
The Homeridae Project, a solar electric system built on a former brownfield just off Interstate 86 on Homer Street, is the result of a partnership between BQ Energy, New York State and National Grid. Representatives from those organizations, along with the city’s mayor, William J. Aiello, cut the project’s ribbon on July 17.
Calling it a "win-win-win" for the community, the environment, and private business, Reed, who represents the Greater Olean area in Congress and sits on its Ways and Means Committee, said it is reassuring to see the fruits of his and his colleagues' labor in providing tax credits for projects such as Homeridae.
“We’ve seen these projects like these across the district, and sitting on the Ways and Means Committee where we’re becoming the Republican alternative energy individuals, we are really supportive of the tax credits that make these sorts of projects work,” he said. “And, in real life, it means the world to me because you write things on a piece of paper in D.C. and then you actually see it come to life by being here.”
Reed also complimented Aiello’s leadership in helping to make the project a reality.
“To hear (Aiello) talk about the benefit to the community and his leadership and his vision to lead the charge to not be afraid of this new way of doing business and these public-private partnerships,” Reed said, noting the project will cut 1% from the city’s tax levy.
“That’s huge,” Reed added.
Aiello also provided more information about the benefits of the project.
“The hotter it is in the summer, that’s when they tell me that the demand will be the most," the mayor said. "That’s when they’ll feed more into the grid. These are also designed at an angle so that the snow will slide off of them as it heats up.”
Reed noted that solar panels only create on-demand energy; they do not store energy for long-term use. He added that a tax credit he and his colleagues are in the process of authoring will provide support for other innovative alternative, renewable energy solutions.
“Creating storage technologies, whether it be battery or other creative resources like compressed air, to abandon oil and gas and mineral fields, that type of technology needs to come on board to support the alternative renewables because solar and wind is only on demand as opposed to the energy they produce is stored and then filled into the grid," he said. "That’s a critical component.”
But solar panels continue to be a great start, Reed said.
“In the meantime, 650 homes now are offset by this renewable source, and it’s endless, even in here in Western New York. It shows it can be done," he said. "We’re excited about it.”
Reed said he also was impressed by the method the city uses to hold down the solar panels, noting that they can be easily removed in the event of a problem with the brownfield.
“Those are long-term questions that need to be asked, a legitimate question: What happens if this technology becomes obsolete?” he said. “It’s easily removable. Brownfield development is always at risk. It’s good to have the brownfield tax credit to clean up the site, but you never know what you’re going to get when you get further into the ground. This is a great use of the property on its surface that puts us back into positive production.”
And while the production of the panels has become a source of contention because of the United States’ trade war with China, Reed still is confident in the evolution of American-made technology.
“They were an American innovative product and now they’re sometimes Poster Child A of Chinese theft of intellectual property,” Reed said of the panels. “It is a legitimate issue that we have with China right now. The good news about it is that the technology does continue developing and emerging in my opinion. That’s what we’re all about – making these more effective and efficient.”
The congressman added, “It’s a good public-private partnership. Kudos to the city, kudos to the entrepreneur that put together BQ energy and setting up these initiatives because of less carbon imprint, less environmental impact and on top of that – the economics to the community.”
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