‘Ton of signs’ distributed in opposition to solar farm | Columbia County

COPAKE – Hundreds of lawn signs against a planned solar project in Copake are distributed.

Last weekend, more than 250 lawn signs against the planned Shepherd’s Run were distributed by the Sensible Solar group for rural New York. The organization plans to distribute more signs again this weekend.

“It was very successful, we gave away a lot of tokens last Saturday,” said Darin Johnson, Sensible Solar’s agent for rural New York. “And we will do that again next Saturday.”

To date, Johnson has distributed about 400 signs. The signs helped raise awareness of the proposed project.

“Unfortunately, when this project was first announced last summer, the vast majority of residents of Copake, including Columbia County, knew nothing about the project,” said Johnson. “I think it definitely helped us educate people about the project. Hopefully it brought them to our website or started conversations. “

The proposed 60-megawatt Shepherd’s Run solar farm being developed by Hecate Energy has become a controversial topic in the city of Copake and Columbia County.

Promoters said it could produce cleaner energy and in part support New York’s goal of getting 70% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. Enemies said they are not against solar energy, but they are against this particular project and its size.

A Copake City zoning law does not allow solar projects if they are larger than 10 acres. Opponents also argued over the potential environmental and visual impact of the project.

Sensible Solar made a post about a week ago asking members of the community to respect the lawn signs, Johnson said. There are no reports of any signs being stolen, damaged or destroyed.

“There is obviously a small group of people supporting Hecate’s project as suggested,” said Johnson. “We have always said Sensible Solar supports solar, but we want to make sure it is done right. So the problem is up to this point. Hecate did not sit down with the City of Copake and had significant discussions and negotiations on how to get this project right for our community. “

The purpose of the lawn signs, mailers, and the Sensible Solar website is to encourage discussion among residents, Johnson said. Local residents who oppose the project can put pressure on Hecate to sit down with the city and have a meaningful discussion.

“We had a site visit because of our reach on Friday,” said Johnson. “Didi Barrett, our member of the congregation, and representative of the state, I know NYSERDA was there, the Office of Renewable Energy Siting. They all came out on Friday and walked around the construction site and then sat down with our manager, Jeannie Mettler. and Richard Wolf, the deputy supervisor, and I think had a very helpful discussion about the concerns of the city and the residents. “

Hecate was invited to meet on Friday, Johnson said. Representatives from Hecate did not attend the meeting.

The next step for Sensible Solar is to continue to put pressure on Hecate and the governor’s office to make sure this project is carried out properly for Copake, Johnson said.

Sensible Solar for Rural New York, City of Copake, and Hecate Energy all held online meetings where hundreds of residents could ask questions or comment on the proposed project.

Sensible Solar will be handing out additional lawn signs at Random Harvest in Craryville on Saturday. Sensible Solar representatives will be there to answer questions, Johnson said.

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