Kinderhook Town Board opts for county solar plan

KINDERHOOK—The Town Board passed a motion at the February 7 meeting to support the Community Solar Campaign recently approved by the county Board of Supervisors. The town plans to piggyback off the county plan to offer solar energy to residents.

The town’s plan is similar to what several other municipalities in the county are doing, but instead of the board or the Climate Smart Committee vetting solar companies Kinderhook will use the companies vetted and approved by the county.

Community Solar campaigns “focus on getting a group of homes and businesses in an area to start or join community solar projects. Community solar projects are an array of solar panels installed in a sunny, offsite location. Community solar allows residents and businesses to benefit from solar if they can’t (or don’t want to) install panels on their respective properties,” according to NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority).

Participants in community solar projects get credits toward their electricity bill by subscribing to a local clean energy project. Community solar installations must be built within the same electricity service areas, as determined by utilities and transmission operators, according to information from the state. Once a town approves a provider of the Community Solar, the town can publicize the company and there are grants available for the municipalities for getting residents to sign-up. The Town of Kinderhook could receive a $5,000 grant if 10 households sign-up for the program, according to Councilman Phil Bickerton at the meeting.

The towns of Chatham and Austertlitz have started Community Solar programs.

In the fall of 2021, the Austerlitz Town Board approved the community solar provider Astral Power, Inc. for the Solarize Austerlitz Campaign. In a press release, the Austertlitz Town Board wrote that “the board and the Climate Committee sub-group agreed that Astral Power had the advantage with regards to overall quality and marketing support.” The release also said that “a subscription to Community Solar requires no upfront costs, no credit checks or confusing billing. All billing is consolidated with the utility bill with net savings on the subscribers’ NYSEG bill.” Information on the company is at www.astralpower.com

Last spring, the Chatham Town Board accepted two Community Solar providers for the Solarize Chatham Initiative, Astral Power and Delaware River Solar ( delawareriversolar.com ).

The Village of Kinderhook is also working with Astral Power, and another company, Solstice Power Technology (www.solstice.us/kinderhook), for the village Community Solar.

As for the county, at the Board of Supervisors’ meeting February 9, the board approved a resolution to enter into an agreement with Astral Power and Nexamp ( www.nexamp.com ) “to jointly promote offers to residents, businesses, and government and non-governmental organizations to subscribe to offset their electric consumption with solar energy for existing and developing solar projects throughout New York State.” The resolution also allows the county Climate Smart Community Task Force to initiate a campaign to publicize and promote Community Solar opportunities. At the Kinderhook Town Board meeting last week, Town Councilman Phil Bickerton, who is also chair of the town’s Climate Smart Committee, asked his board for “general support for the campaign.” The board passed the motion to support the campaign.

Also at the meeting:

•Councilman Bickerton said that the town’s draft solar law update will be presented to the board soon. The changes would affect solar panel projects in the town. Last May the board held a public hearing on proposed changes to the town’s zoning law for solar panels, mostly having to do with large scale solar farms. Several residents spoke against the proposed changes at the spring meeting so the law went back to the committee for review

•Members of Girl Scout Troop #1105 and their scout leaders attended the meeting and asked the board for permission to put a battery recycling box in the Martin H. Glynn Municipal Building. After the presentation, board approved the plan and offered that the Climate Smart Committee use some of its funding to help the troop mail the batteries to the company, Call2Recycle, to be recycled

•The board acknowledged Black History Month with a motion

•The board heard a report from newly-appointed Town Historian William Better

•The board approved moving a petition from Stephanie Caradine-Ruchel to change the town code to allow chickens in backyards in the Niverville hamlet to the Codes Committee

•The board approved AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide program to be held in the Valatie Village office (in the Glynn Building) through March. The people who are helping seniors with tax preparation will be in the building on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Meetings are set up by appointment by calling Greg Seaman at 518 758-9342.

The next Kinderhook Town Board meeting will be Monday, March 7 at 6:30 p.m in the Glynn Building.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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