Will Solar Plants Deliver On Long Island

Land Use


Even before the planning, construction and closing of the Shoreham nuclear plant, the debate has gone back and forth on the best way to provide power to Long Island.  The latest big deal, so to speak, is the potential for solar power to supply energy needed to sustain Long Island, and fuel growth.  But, is this a viable energy source?  As reported in the Wall Street Journal in the June 13-14 edition, at page B1, some types of solar plants have failed to deliver.  Solar technology is still a work in progress.  Here are some issues to think about as LIPA, PSEG, and local municipalities consider making provision for solar farms and plants:

1.   Solar takes up a lot of land – acres and acres.  Unless there is enough land to develop as a solar farm, solar will have no meaningful impact on Long Island.  Long Island has only limited land area that could possibly be used for solar energy.  A lot of that land isn’t ideally situated for solar.  So, Long Island needs a comprehensive inventory of land that could be developed for solar.  To date, that doesn’t exist.

2.   Even assuming land is available, is solar the “highest and best” use of the land?  We cannot analyze this question based on the current economy.  We need to look forward, 20 years out, to see if it is worth devoting the scarce land resources to solar, as compared to other uses that are viable now, or may be viable in the future.  This has yet to be done across all jurisdictions.

3.   There has not been sufficient study of how solar energy would be transmitted to the plants that produce the power, and then transmitted to property owners.  Energy and power without transmission is worthless.

4.   How does solar stack up economically against other energy sources, like wind power, or traditional energy producing plants, especially if solar does not get government subsidies.

5.   Is this an industry that will benefit Long Island’s economy long term?  Compare the solar industry to high tech industry and businesses, bio-medical facilities and educational and research uses.  Will solar fuel job creation and growth?  Maybe our resources should go to other industries instead of incentivizing solar energy.  Without a full analysis, we cannot make that determination.

These are just some thoughts to consider as the long term debate continues regarding energy on Long Island.


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