Assemblymember Barrett and Senator Hinchey: SITED Act Signed into Law

Assemblymember Didi Barrett (Dutchess/Columbia) and Senator Michelle Hinchey (SD-41) announced that the Smart Integrated Tools for Energy Development (SITED) Act has been signed into law (Ch. 759 of 2023). The bill 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 also provides for educational programs to help communities better understand host benefits and to identify energy production sites with minimal negative environmental and community impacts.

“The challenges of balancing the critical need for more clean energy with preserving farmland for food production and ensuring the viability of local economies has played out across New York State over the last several years,” said Assemblymember Didi Barrett, Chair of the Assembly’s Energy Committee. “The SITED Act empowers local communities to be engaged early in the siting process by providing them with the knowledge, tools and resources to identify and communicate their priorities and to understand the benefits of hosting a renewable energy project. We need to work together throughout the state to reach our ambitious climate goals and I thank Governor Hochul for signing this legislation to ensure local governments have a seat at the energy siting table.”

Senator Michelle Hinchey said, “Our communities should have the opportunity to provide real input when developers are identifying lands for renewable energy projects in order to prevent further unintended consequences caused by poor siting decisions. At current levels, large-scale solar projects are overtaking prime farmland essential for our food supply and encroaching on sensitive environmental areas and water sources. This is happening, in part, because developers lack the tools to assess local impacts before siting. Recognizing the critical role of community input in our battle against the Climate Crisis, the SITED Act is one among several actions we will take to ensure smarter and more sustainable choices in our pursuit of a clean energy future.”

“Scenic Hudson commends Governor Hochul for passing this ground-breaking legislation led by Assemblymember Barrett and Senator Hinchey. New York is now the first state in the nation to have a statewide planning tool that empowers local governments to take charge of where clean energy projects – including solar arrays and wind turbines – would work best in their communities,” said Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan. “We’re grateful to the Governor and the bill’s sponsors for their leadership and dedication to finding solutions to climate change – and for making New York the national leader in innovative and equitable policy making for renewable energy development. We look forward to working closely with them, and NYSERDA, in 2024 and beyond to advance New York’s ambitious renewable energy goals.”

The SITED Act will allow municipalities to learn about different renewable energy projects and the impact they could have on their community, including wind, solar, energy storage, and transmission and distribution system upgrades. Proactively educating communities about the benefits of sustainable energy sources will expedite the siting process and help to ameliorate conflicts that could arise in the future, noted Barrett.