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Lyme resident likely to lose $10K in incentives for personal solar project

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A Three Mile Point resident who planned to install solar panels on his barn is about to lose more than $10,000 in either state grants or tax credits because of a moratorium on alternative energy projects in Lyme.

The town had considered lifting the ban on solar power for David D. Widrick’s 7.2-kilowatt project but ultimately decided it would be unfair to town residents who have been denied permits to install residential wind turbines under the same moratorium.

Lyme’s Planning Board is drafting new regulations on personal wind, solar and biomass energy developments with a goal to present its recommendation to the town board by next month. The Town Council plans to review the recommendations, make changes if necessary and adopt a new set of zoning rules on alternative energy in February.

The problem is, Mr. Widrick will be losing a $10,500 New York State Energy Research and Development Authority grant unless he installs the solar panels before Jan. 1.

He can apply for a 90-day extension for the grant money, he said, but by doing so he would lose a 30 percent tax credit on the roughly $40,000 project.

Regardless, Mr. Widrick said, he already has purchased the photovoltaic panels and will install them as soon as he is granted a permit for the work.

“Maybe we should do something under zoning that actually helps somebody for a change, instead of throwing another roadblock,” Lyme Deputy Supervisor Donald R. Bourquin said.

Mr. Bourquin had asked fellow town board members to consider holding a public hearing on lifting the moratorium on solar power, but only Councilwoman Anne M. “Boo” Harris supported his motion at a recent council meeting.

Councilman Daniel J. Villa said it would be unfair to suddenly exclude solar power from the moratorium when there’s also a residential wind project permit pending.

“I feel that if we stop and pull out solar, then we should pull them all out and give everyone the same opportunity. And I don’t think it would be appropriate to stop and pull the potential zoning law we are doing apart to segregate out one element from the other,” Mr. Villa said.

Town Supervisor Scott G. Aubertine agreed with Mr. Villa.

“I can’t see dropping it just for solar and not for wind turbines. It’s just not fair,” Mr. Aubertine said.

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