While more solar projects are being proposed in Chautauqua County, U.S. Rep. Tom Reed says in general he supports solar energy, but adds there are questions that still need to be addressed.
During his weekly conference call with media from the 23rd Congressional District, The Post-Journal/OBSERVER asked Reed about the number of solar projects that are being developed in Western New York.
“I’m truly an ‘all the above’ when it comes to energy portfolio in America. That includes natural gas and oil, as well as alternative renewables like solar and wind, and geothermal and other technologies we’re seeing deployed,” he said.
Last week, Reed visited Bemus Point regarding the high price of gasoline. At that news conference, he called on the Biden Administration to empower the U.S. energy market to produce more oil and natural gas. He also called on Washington leaders to restore the supply chain to American soil and reign in government spending.
When it comes to solar energy, Reed said there are some issues that need to be resolved.
“The concern I have with potential solar development is we’ve got to make sure we have access to the supply chains so that we have the products to install those solar panels, and that we’re not dependent on China and other adversarial countries that control that supply chain,” he said.
He also has concerns regarding environmental impact. “There has to be an honest conversation about the impact on the environment from solar panels, what it does to our landscapes, what it does to taking up that green space that is now going to have panels and we have to answer the question what happens to these solar panels when they need to be disposed of after they run through their natural life cycle,” he said.
But even with the concerns, Reed believes solar has a role in energy. “I believe solar is a component of that ‘all the above’ energy policy, and we promote ‘all the above,’ and that includes solar, as well as wind,” he said.
There have been a number of solar projects proposed and constructed in Chautauqua County over the last few years. In 2021 alone, the Chautauqua County Planning Board reviewed 15 different solar projects. Those projects combined total around 80 megawatts and are planned to be placed on 400 acres of land, 255 which are agricultural acres. And those 15 projects don’t include the single large scale South Ripley Solar Project, which is 270 megawatts and is planned to be placed on 1,250 to 1,500 acres of land. That project has already been given a Payment In Lieu Of Taxes agreement from the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency and is awaiting state approval, which is expected later this year.