To the Editor,
I support City Council passage of the proposed Comprehensive Plan changes and new solar zoning regulations. Clearly, many Warwick citizens are behind the Council, are pleased that …
To the Editor,
I support City Council passage of the proposed Comprehensive Plan changes and new solar zoning regulations. Clearly, many Warwick citizens are behind the Council, are pleased that it gave these positive steps first passage, and look forward to a second favorable vote. Many thanks are owed to Jane Kenney Austin and all those who’ve worked so hard to ensure that the City leaders have a reasonable, well-crafted plan to consider.
It’s critical that, in coming years, Rhode Island takes real steps to move from reliance on fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. I was pleased to see the General Assembly pass the Act on Climate last year, a proposal I had sought to enact when I was in the Senate. In order to meet the tougher standards set by that law, though, we need to transition to renewables, and do it sooner rather than later.
Solar, of course, is a major component of the renewable energy initiatives. But if solar arrays are installed at the price of deforestation, the benefit is lost.
Right now, the incentives are skewed, such that developers benefit even when they clear-cut land or use open space for solar. Here in Warwick, we face the very real prospect that forested areas, farmland, and open space will be targeted first for such development, simply because putting it there is easier, and developers have incentives to use such land.
Passage of these ordinances will prohibit large-scale commercial solar development in residential and open space, while permitting solar canopies and rooftop development in existing commercial and industrial areas. We have plenty of spots in Warwick where solar can go, without sacrificing land that shouldn’t be touched. I’ve just returned from a trip to California, and it was striking to see by how many parking lots there have solar canopies. It keeps the cars cool and provides energy. It's just smart utilization of land.
The ordinances will also allow solar arrays on contaminated sites, under certain well-regulated circumstances. Regulations will be established for residential use, too.
The state is engaging in efforts to adjust the renewable energy incentives to prevent deforestation. The proposed zoning changes here in Warwick further that goal. Please let your Council representative know that you favor of these carefully considered changes. Smart solar siting in Warwick is wise policy.
Former Warwick Senator
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