The U.S. Corn Belt spans much of the Midwest U.S., and for a few months of the year is the most agriculturally productive area in the world, including the Amazon, and provides more than one third of the global supply of corn for food and fuel.1,2
Climate change related predictions vary dramatically and include increased temperatures across the Corn Belt and severe drought3 as well as dramatically increased precipitation4, and more. Such potentially conflicting predictions indicate that we really cannot definitively predict how climate change might actually affect this incredibly productive agricultural land. Since it is known that this is indeed the most productive land on the entire planet, it can be surmised that any significant change in the climate will have an adverse impact on its productivity and thus result in a worldwide impact on food supply.
“The proposed 180-megawatt Project [i.e., the proposed Horseshoe Solar Facility Site] encompasses approximately 3,800 acres; almost entirely comprised of rotation cropland in the Town of Caledonia, Livingston County, and Town of Rush, Monroe County. . . . a majority of the land included in this project is comprised of farmland and constitutes some of the most productive agricultural land in both counties.”5 NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets
Considering that the Town of Rush contains land that has been identified by the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets as some of the most agriculturally productive in the area, it is logical, in view of the upcoming global climate change disruptions, to ensure that the value of this agricultural land is protected. The NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets “recommends other alternative sites be explored and identified which are not flat, productive, well-drained farmland comprised of Prime Farmland soil or Farmland of Statewide Importance.”6
1 Dr. Ursula Vera, Union of Concerned Scientists, Mar 3, 2020.
2 Aronsohn Marie Denoia, “A Climate Change Double Whammy in the U.S. Corn Belt,” State of the Planet, Earth Institute, Columbia University
3 Ting, Mingfang, Michael Puma, “The 1930s Dust Bowl and the Corn Belt’s Future,” Center for Climate Systems Research, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University
4 Climate Change and Agriculture, A Perfect Storm in Farm Country, Union of Concerned Scientists, Mar 20, 2019
5 New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets (NYSDAM) Staff Comments on the March 2019 Preliminary Scoping Statement (PSS) for Horseshoe Solar Energy, LLC, April 16, 2019
By DAVID AND CECILIA DEUEL SPECIAL TO THE LCN PUBLISHED: FRIDAY, AUGUST 9, 2019 AT 11:07 PM
“Peaking Power Plants,” which are also called, “Peaker Plants” or just “Peakers,” supply power to the grid only during periods of highest (i.e., “peak”) demand.
Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy (“PSE”) recently published a report on Peaker Plants stating the following:
Across New York, peak electric demand is met in part by 50 oil- and gas-fired peaker power plants and peaking units at larger plants. . . . More than one-third of New York’s peaker plants primarily burn oil and three-quarters are over 30 years old— resulting in numerous inefficient plants with high rates of greenhouse gas and health-damaging pollutant emissions for every unit of electricity generated. Some of these plants are in dense urban areas: more than a million people live within three miles of ten of these plants. A third of the plants are located in areas the state considers to be environmental justice communities, where vulnerable populations typically experience high levels of health and environmental burdens.1
Even though they do not run all day long, peaker plants emit 30 times more nitrogen oxide than do modern plants. They account for more than a third of these emissions across the state and can cause breathing problems for vulnerable populations.2
The largest peaker plants in NYS is Oswego Harbor Power, located in Oswego. It is 72 years old. Its primary fuel is oil and it generates 1.8 GW of electricity. As we move away from fossil-fuel fired plants toward the generation of more of our electricity using intermittent technologies such as solar and wind, our need to accommodate peak demands will increase.3
The performance of these peaker plants need to be considered and addressed.
2 https://nylcv.org/news/cuomos-new-regulations-on-peaking-power-plants/#:~:text=The%20proposed%20regulations%20include%20restrictions%20on%20emissions%20and,their%20air%20conditione rs%20and%20demand%20for%20electricity%20peaks
The Livingston County Planning Department's Preliminary Agenda for July 11, 2019 listed reports that the Towns of Avon, Leicester, York and Livonia were exploring "Moratoriums [sic] prohibiting large scale battery energy storage systems for a period of one year".
The Steering Committee of Residents United to Save Our Hometown (R.U.S.H.), urges the Town of Rush to go on record by stating that the Town will not consider PILOT agreements for solar energy installations and the Town should formally Opt-Out of the RPTL §487 immediately.
Strengthening the hastily passed Rush local solar zoning law is important in terms of any Tier 3 solar installations built in the town; it is crucial if the Horseshoe Solar project is granted permission to locate on the proposed 700 acres in Rush. To help explain the differences in the currently proposed Town law and that proposed by Residents United's Steering Committee, we have constructed a comparison chart.
The Town’s range of sizes for these facilities now ranges from 20 to 50 acres. This really is too much! Click on "FIND OUT MORE" to view a photo of a 20-acre site. It is quite large. RUSH recommends a range of 20 to 30 acres. This, we believe, while still quite large, can meet the needs of the Town.
The Town's current law allows 20 to 50-acre facilities to be sited. This is really too large an area. The range should be 20 to 30 acres at a maximum! Also, land areas designated for solar energy generation need to be coincident to that designated as overlay districts so that the total land area for both overlay districts and energy generation shall each not exceed the 150 acres. In this way, we will not create a lot of excess acreage that will stimulate folks to consider whether or not they should be attempting to site more and more facilities!!!
NYS Department of State, revised 2009, reprinted 2015, page 6.
"The overlay zoning technique is a modification of the system of conventionally mapped zoning districts. An overlay zone applies a common set of standards to a designated area that may cut across several different conventional or "underlying" zoning districts, with the standards of the overlay zone applying in addition to those of the underlying zoning districts. Some common examples of overlay zones are the flood zones administered by many communities under the National flood Insurance Program, historic district overlay zones. .or an environmentally sensitive area.
There are no specific procedures in the enabling statues dealing with overlay zoning. Overlay requirements may be enacted or amended in the same manner as other zoning regulations."