Niagara County Legislator Dave Godfrey, joined by all of his colleagues in the Legislature’s majority, will propose a local law that requires solar panel manufacturers to finance the recovery and recycling of any of their solar panels installed in Niagara County when the panel is replaced. A resolution to set a public hearing on the local law is set for tomorrow’s meeting of the Legislature.
“We are doing everything we can to battle against Gov. Cuomo’s efforts to strip away local decision-making on where these green energy projects can be located in Niagara County,” Godfrey said. “But we need to be prepared to protect our community from becoming a depository for spent solar panels that contain hazardous waste even for solar projects that enjoy the support from local residents.”
Godfrey said he is working with county’s environmental coordinator on identifying the best approach to implement the recovery and recycling law, beginning with modeling it after legislation adopted by the state of Washington. There has previously been legislation introduced in Albany, but that failed to pass. Godfrey said he does not want to see the panels end up in landfills in Niagara County.
“The lack of action by New York state is the reason we are being proactive in passing a local law for Niagara County,” he said. “We have legacies from the nuclear and chemical industries that were celebrated as the future technologies at the time, but the waste from those technologies ultimately did major harm to our community. We will not make a similar mistake with spent solar panels.”
Godfrey said the issue is more current than many would believe because, even though solar panels can last 25 years, there are many that will be replaced well before because of malfunction or damage.
“There are solar projects being proposed all across Niagara County with zero plan for recycling, and this law will stop that,” Godfrey said. “We will make every solar developer and manufacturer acknowledge this financial responsibility on their end and, if that makes them decide not to come here, well we’re OK with that, too.”
Godfrey said a draft of the public law will be ready for review and comment before the public hearing, which should occur in April. He said his hope is to adopt the local law shortly thereafter.