Gardiner seeks grant for community solar project

Local residents who successfully advocated for the Town of Gardiner to take the New York Climate Smart Communities Pledge, approved by the Town Board in January, are losing no time in nudging their agenda forward into practice. Calling themselves Climate Smart Gardiner, the ad hoc group has formed a task force and already begun forming subcommittees. At the February 13 Town Board meeting, organizer Franco Carucci gave a presentation seeking official endorsement of the Solarize Gardiner subcommittee’s application for a $5,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

The purpose of the grant is to fund education, marketing and outreach efforts associated with the establishment of a Community Solar project in Gardiner. According to Carucci, this would constitute “a solar array farm in which you can access the clean energy produced by the solar panels and get credits on your electric utility bill.” Such a community-based installation “enables multiple customers to receive net metering credits from a single solar energy project” and “expands access to solar generation to any utility customers, including renters and customers who cannot install residential solar panels due to poor location, roof conditions [or] tree coverage.” NYSERDA would provide marketing and outreach materials and a liaison in addition to the grant monies, which are funded through the $1 billion statewide NY-Sun solar investment initiative.

The Town Board voted to authorize signing of a letter of commitment to the Solarize Gardiner project, including serving as lead agency on the grant application. Presuming that the grant is awarded, the funds should be released within one to two months after the town selects a Community Solar vendor and sets an official campaign launch date, Carucci explained. No local matching funds are required, but the town is expected to provide space on its municipal website for announcements of Solarize Gardiner events and information on how to join the Community Solar grid.

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The group will be holding a vegetarian potluck dinner at the Gardiner Library on Friday, March 2 from 6 to 8 p.m. There, volunteers will continue organizing subcommittees dedicated to such projects as LED streetlight conversion, a Climate Smart Youth task force, a website, the Gardiner Repair Café, an electric vehicle charging station and expanding composting at the transfer station. Hands-on activities for kids are also planned. The Gardiner Library is located at 133 Farmers’ Turnpike in Gardiner. Interested residents may find out more about Climate Smart Gardiner by e-mailing fr7475@gmail.com.