The preamble to our local solar law states “The intent is to both encourage the use of renewable energy systems based on sunlight while at the same time protecting the health, safety and general welfare of the residents of the Town of Rush.”
A detailed look at how the Town of Rush is contributing to New York State's energy goal.
The Town of Rush has enacted a Land Use Moratorium prohibiting large scale battery energy storage system installations.
The Town of Rush is dedicated to:
Section 120-74 of the Rush Town Code provides for the location, regulation and processing of applications for solar energy systems within the Town of Rush.
Article 10, §168.3(e) states “approval for a major electric generating facility may not be granted if the facility is not designed to operate in compliance with applicable local laws.” Yet, our Town Solar Law, as currently written does not entirely protect the Rush residents.
"Summarizes the various land use management tools that New York municipalities can use to help deal with issues of community character and change. . . . a primer that briefly describes both the importance of planning to identify how a municipality wishes to develop, as well as the regulatory techniques available to help it realize its goals.
Rush citizens agreed upon a comprehensive master plan for development in Rush. Agriculture and rural character remain the will of the people.
How many homes in Rush are well-suited to rooftop solar?
Statistically speaking, about one-third. An unshaded, southwards facing roof with a slope of 15 to 40 degrees will work fine. The average house roof is about 1,700 square feet.Assuming half is facing southwards, we wind up with about 875 square feet for solar. This is enough for about 48 solar panels with a combined production capability of 12 kW.
A common size solar panel array is usually around 5kW and takes up around 400 square feet of space. An array of this size can produce an average of 350-850 kWh of AC energy per month. To put that into perspective, a typical household uses about 897 kWh per month.
Therefore, it is very possible to generate enough energy to cover 100% of your needs.
In Rush, a roof-mounted systems is allowed on any lawful building to generate energy for predominate on-site use, and is identified as a Tier 1 Solar Energy System.
What about pole-mounted solar in my back yard?
In addition, or as an alternative to a roof-mounted system to generate energy for predominately on-site use, solar panels can be placed on poles in the ground up to eight feet in height. This is allowed in all Rush zoning districts as “accessory structures” and is exempt from site plan review and identified as a Tier 2 Solar Energy System. It must be screened to avoid or minimize views from surrounding properties.
This additional option probably increases the number of Rush homes that are eligible for solar to 50%.
And, beyond this???
Beyond this is the Tier 3 Solar Energy System that allows larger landowners the opportunity to install between 20 to 50 acres of solar panels, screened and not to exceed 12 feet in height, on up to 50% of their property. The town wide maximum area for Tier 3 systems is 150 acres.
The Town of Rush is dedicated to agriculture. In view of the relative paucity of prime farmland in NYS compared to the relative abundance of the same in the Town of Rush, it is essential to understand the importance of this fact.
The Town of Rush is already dedicated to doing its part to meet the statewide energy goal of 6000MW of renewable energy. The Town of Rush has committed 150 acres of land to be developed into large scale solar generation facilities. This is in addition to all roof mounted and backyard mounted systems.
The Town of Rush is dedicated to preserving its varied and rich historical and cultural resources.
“Golah is the name given to the spot [in the Town of Rush] where the Genesee River and Honeoye Creek come together . . . and has drawn human inhabitants for thousands of years. . . . The area has long been home to settlements and camps and is a known burial site . . . It has produced significant archaeological material, some of it dating back 5,000 to 9,000 years . . . It's an area that needs careful attention"
It also is the place where Invenergy wants to place a 5,000 sq. ft. building, a storage yard, a connection to an existing electric substation, an additional electric substation, access roads, a panel "laydown area" for panel preparation for hundreds of thousands of solar panels, plus over 800 acres of land leased out of the approximate 3,000 acres for the total project. (Per Invenergy's Preliminary Buildable Area Plan
THE TOWN OF RUSH IS DOING ITS PART!!!
 US Dept. of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service, “Prime Farmland of New York,” August 1979
This Local Law is intended to temporarily prohibit the creation or siting of large scale battery energy storage system installations within the Town of Rush, pending the development and adoption of local laws and/or ordinances designed to regulate and govern such installations.
What is the concern?
It's well documented and acknowledged by the NYS grid operators that large scale solar installations in western NY will not assist NYS with peak load demand challenges. Solar simply does not produce energy for the grid during peak demand times starting around 6pm.
New York State's solution is to provide millions new subsidies to co-locate storage batteries with solar/wind installations.
Batteries contain noxious materials and, although not often, they spontaneously catch fire as we've seen in aircraft, phones and hoverboards.
What is the concern for the Town of Rush?
The Fire Protection Research Foundation has been commissioning studies because of the unexpected challenges first responders face with new alternative energy equipment, photovoltaic (PV)/solar panels as well as batteries. Underwriters Laboratories found, among other challenges, that lock-on shock hazards continue even in artificial light, like that caused by emergency lighting or by a fire department light truck. And, a disconnect switch may not safely turn off equipment because of combiner boxes, where multiple circuits are wired together. PV panel installations are dangerous and co-located batteries make them more so. Surrounding acres of PV panels and co-located batteries with locked, seven foot fences, keep most animals and the unwary individual out.
But first responders have to get in to protect the community. So how do we protect our first responders- the Rush volunteer firefighters, EMTs and police? What do we do about the potential shock hazards/fires/explosions from PV systems with large scale co-located storage batteries if constructed in Tier 3 installations in Rush?
If our local solar law permits these systems and co-located batteries, what special training and protective clothing is needed? What does our liability insurance carrier recommend to protect the Town in this litigious world?
The Steering Committee of Residents United has asked the Town Board to do more research and possibly exclude Tier 3 co-located batteries in the Town's local solar zoning code.
Decisions under Article 10, made by the NYS Board on Electric Generation Siting and Environment regarding siting of the HSS facility is governed by §168.3(e), which states that approval for a major electric generating facility may not be granted if the facility is not designed to operate in compliance with applicable local laws. Yet, the Town’s new solar law, as currently written, permits up to 50 acres of residential/farmland per parcel to be transformed for this industrial use. This provision will be seen as supporting the intentions of the HSS project.
Additionally, the Town’s new solar law permits construction of industrial solar energy facilities on residential parcels without a primary residence. This is a departure from the current practice of the Town. This provision will also be seen as supporting the intentions of the HSS project.
Adding to this, any approved application under this new law will weaken the argument that it is the Town’s goal and the will of its citizens to “to protect the Town’s existing rural and open character . . . [including] conserving agricultural resources and viable farmland.”
Also, Section § 120-69 D (4) of the Town Code states that a decision whether to grant or deny approval for a special permit shall be based upon the proposed use being in harmony with the probable future development of the neighborhood, not discouraging the appropriate development and use, nor impairing the value thereof. The Tier 3 provisions of Town’s new solar law potentially undermines this provision, further weakening our position.