On Thursday, May 11, the RVBA hosted “Shining a Light on Solar Power,” a breakfast meeting at SUNY Ulster. There were 60 attendees at the meeting. Our panel of experts included: Dennis Doyle, Ulster County as Moderator; Jen Metzger, Director – Citizens for Local Power; Joseph Hally, Manager – Energy Transportation and Solutions – Central Hudson Gas & Electric; John Wackman, Program Manager – Solarize Hudson Valley; Tom Jackson, Director – Ulster County Real Property Tax Service Agency; and Dr. Mark Stewart, Engineering Professor – UCCC.
During the 90 minute session, much meaningful information was shared by the panel. Some of the highlights included:
- A discussion of what solar power is and how it is created.
- The state of current regulations regarding solar power for both individual and communities, including local and regional solar projects.
- Description of a program called Solarize Rondout Valley which provides tax credits that are available currently and for the next few months.
- Information on the efficiency and lifespan of solar panels. including that today’s average panel is 20% efficient, there is a more expensive panel that is 40% efficient, and panels degrade at the rate of 1% per year, requiring replacement over time.
- Property and tax implications, including that the addition of solar to your home is considered an “improvement” and may increase the both value of your home and your property and school taxes.
- Explanation of the effects of solar power on the power grid and how excess solar power is currently treated as a buy back from utilities.
All in all, it was a very informative session and very well presented. Thanks to our panel and hosts at SUNY Ulster!