“The fate of New York’s energy future may rest on the tiny Columbia County town of Copake, where a community battle between a solar power developer and town government might be a bellwether for how the transition to renewable energy may unfold across the state. A town lawsuit filed in response to the project, if successful, would put a halt to the state’s new system for approving large renewable projects.
But beyond the legal dispute, the fight over solar energy in Copake is a powerful illustration of how complicated things can get when environmental goals collide. It’s also an example other rural upstate towns should be paying attention to, if they want to keep some local control over the shape and size of large energy projects.
The proposed solar project in Copake—dubbed Shepherd’s Run, in a nod to the area’s agricultural heritage—has been a lightning rod for community disagreement since 2017, when Chicago-based developer Hecate LLC first approached the town board with a proposal to build 40 megawatts of solar power capacity, which was later increased to 60 across 480 acres. The project would place large solar arrays across a number of different land parcels leased from local landowners, in an area that spans farm fields, wetlands, and forest.”
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Arterian, Susan. The River 28 September 2021.