Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D-Dutchess/Columbia) announced that she has introduced the Smart Integrative Tools for Energy Development (SITED) Act, which will require New York State to develop a Clean Energy Mapping Tool to allow communities to identify the lands best suited for renewable energy siting and designate preferred sites on the map for renewable energy developers to search. The bill will also require educational programs to help communities better understand host community benefits and to identify energy production sites with minimal negative environmental and community impacts.
“The New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) enacted in 2019, was pioneering legislation that took seriously the climate challenges faced by our planet,” said Barrett. “In its very name it promised equity between climate-smart advances and protecting our local communities in this Home Rule state. It suggested, as well, a balance between the scale and placement of renewable energy developments and the wellbeing of local communities and their economies, whether rural or urban.”
Assemblymember Barrett’s SITED Act, A.2888, takes a multi-pronged approach that will create the outreach, education, tools, and resources to allow local municipalities to better plan and identify viable locations, maximize host community benefits, and effectively communicate their local priorities to potential energy developers, ensuring a just transition to clean energy for communities across the state of New York.
“By increasing community education and engagement, developing new planning tools and resources, and offering technical assistance and training, the Clean Energy Outreach and Community Planning Program will be invaluable in helping municipalities maximize the benefits of clean energy,” said Audrey Friedrichsen, Senior Climate and Renewable Energy Attorney for Scenic Hudson. “Scenic Hudson looks forward to working with Assemblymember Barrett and others to secure the bill’s passage and ensure New York's climate goals are met in a way that considers and respects local community resources and values.”
“Assemblymember Didi Barrett has seen firsthand how properly sited solar can be beneficial to communities and how poorly sited projects impact its residents,” said Troy Weldy, Executive Director of the Columbia Land Conservancy. “This bill will encourage greater collaboration between towns and solar developers, helping us reach our necessary renewable energy goals and protecting our critical farmlands for future generations.”
“The challenges of balancing farmland protection, the long-term vitality of our communities and the scale and siting of renewable energy projects have been playing out over the last several years across the state. While some municipalities have welcomed solar projects and have developers who work cooperatively with the host community, it is clear that some communities have had the opposite experience,” said Assemblymember Barrett. “There are, in fact, developers who have no commitment to the host community and intend to quickly flip their solar sites, often selling to out of state and overseas businesses, leaving communities with no voice and no safeguards.
“This legislation, developed with local stakeholders including the Columbia Land Conservancy and Scenic Hudson, will help build the consensus and bolster the community input essential to reaching the goals set forth in the CLCPA and at the same time ensure that our municipalities have the tools and resources to access and maximize the benefits available to them.”