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Study Shows Huge Solar Potential on Long Island

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Developing "low-impact" solar installation sites would help meet New York's ambitious clean- energy goals and fight climate change. (WADII/Adobe Stock)
Developing "low-impact" solar installation sites would help meet New York's ambitious clean- energy goals and fight climate change. (WADII/Adobe Stock)
 By Andrea Sears - Producer, Contact
March 29, 2021

NEW YORK -- A new study shows Long Island has the potential to generate more electric power than it needs with "low-impact" solar installations.

The Long Island Solar Roadmap is a report and interactive map identifying sites across the island where mid- to large-scale solar arrays could be deployed without negatively impacting natural areas, forests or prime farmland.

Jessica Price, renewable energy strategy lead for The Nature Conservancy in New York, said installing solar panels on sites such as commercial rooftops, parking lots and capped landfills could produce more electricity than the Long Island region uses annually.

"We identify enough low-impact sites for 19.5 gigawatts of solar installations," Price reported. "That much solar could produce enough electricity to power 4.8 million New York homes."

The report, compiled by The Nature Conservancy and Defenders of Wildlife, is intended to serve as a resource for local legislators and community members to tailor clean-energy solutions that fit their needs.

Price pointed out developing even a portion of the identified solar installation sites would have other benefits.

"Building just a quarter of this potential could support more than 13,000 jobs in the solar industry, and those are really good-paying jobs," Price asserted. "So supporting this can really help our local economy."

She stressed that amount of implementation would bring an additional $5 billion in earnings for workers in construction, and $10 billion in local economic benefits.

Long Island has the highest concentration of residential rooftop solar in the state, but low-income and communities of color are often shut out of the benefits of solar.

Price noted the study emphasizes community solar development as a way to improve equity.

"That can enable more Long Islanders to use clean energy and save money, which is really, really helpful for low- to moderate-income households," Price emphasized.

She added the study, the first of its kind on this scale, has very promising implications for similar, densely populated urban areas across the country.

Disclosure: The Nature Conservancy in New York - Long Island contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Environment, Public Lands/Wilderness, and Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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