YORKTOWN, N.Y. – The first “solar farm” in Westchester may soon be coming to Mohegan Lake.
Joseph Shanahan, director of real estate and permitting for the Clean Energy Collective, said his company is akin to a neighborhood co-op for vegetables.
“You get enough homeowners who want fresh vegetables, want them at a good price, but they don’t want to put a garden in the backyard,” Shanahan said. “In our case, we take the place of companies and residents who don’t want solar panels on their roofs.”
The Clean Energy Collective, a seven-year-old company based in Carbondale, Co., has targeted a 34-acre property at 3849 Foothill Road where it would construct its solar panels. The vacant property is privately owned and the company would lease it, Shanahan said.
“We think it’s a good location for high use,” Shanahan said. “We think it’s a rather out of the way spot. It wouldn’t be visually impactful to the community. This type of use is about as passive a use as you can get.”
Shanahan, making a pitch at the Oct. 10 town board work session, said solar farms generate little traffic and no lighting, do not require use of first responders, add no children to the school districts, and generate no trash.
The Clean Energy Collective has solar farms up and running in 15 states, Shanahan said. Yorktown, like many other communities, does not have a law on the books governing this type of use. Shanahan said he has worked with communities in the past on developing bylaws that cover setback, density, coverage, etc.
“While I obviously have a project-specific interest in developing a bylaw here in town, I think if you brought legislation on the books you are opening the door for other projects that may be beneficial to the town,” Shanahan told the board.
Supervisor Michael Grace said he was open to the idea.
“We all want to do our part for the environment and climate change,” Grace said. “I believe that we should, if you’re willing to work with us, it may be worthwhile to explore actually getting legislation.”
Shanahan said his company builds, operates and maintains its facilities. The Mohegan Lake facility could service up to 460 homes per year; however, there is usually an “anchor” tenant that uses most of the solar panels.
Though he supported the idea, Grace said he found it “remarkable” that any land in Westchester would be more valuable with solar panels on it.
Shanahan said the clean energy industry is based on government incentives, which is how his company turns a profit.
“We don’t make money producing electricity,” Shanahan said. “That’s almost break-even. These type of facilities get tax credits. We in turn sell the tax credits to finance houses.”
With the support of the board, Grace said the town will begin working with Shanahan on drafting legislation governing solar farms.