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Letter: Setting the record straight on renewable energy plan

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act, a nation leading model for responsible and streamlined renewable project development, will be a win for local communities and help the state achieve our aggressive climate goals while maintaining critical local and public input, contrary to what the editorial of Feb. 26 suggests.

The Act empowers the state to pre-assess sites for community acceptance and viability and offer those sites with little to no local opposition to developers to minimize the chance for a multiyear battle between the developer and host communities.

The new permitting process provides ample opportunity for local jurisdictions to submit evidence of conflict with local laws and allows for a hearing process if such conflicts are substantive and significant.

To ensure that renewable energy development is targeted to the best locations to advance economic development, while also protecting natural resources and community needs, the Act prioritizes the development of existing or abandoned commercial sites, brownfields, landfills, former industrial sites, and abandoned or otherwise underutilized sites.

For both the build-ready efforts and new permitting process, we are encouraging local communities to actively participate in all opportunities to provide formal and informal input.

Under this Act, NYSERDA will also create a new Host Communities Benefit Program to deliver incentives to communities and property owners that host build-ready sites and to provide clean energy workforce training grants through a new Local Workforce Opportunities Fund.

Unlike developers who often don’t have a pulse on the interest of local communities, the state’s commitment to its constituents and its ability to marshal resources from any of its agencies will provide the robust capacity needed to manage community concerns while carrying out this comprehensive strategy.

Alicia Barton

President and CEO

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