Manufacturers of solar panels that are installed in Niagara County must submit a detailed plan for recycling those panels once they break or wear out. That new law, believed to be the first of its kind in New York State, was unanimously adopted by the county Legislature last week. Although the stated reason for the law was to prevent environmental damage from hazardous materials within solar panels, some hope it will discourage developers from pursuing large-scale solar projects in the county.

“I hope it would be so. Niagara County appears to want to be against industrial solar,” said Barbara McCollum, who has been active in trying to fight a proposed 46-acre solar project on Slayton Settlement Road in the Town of Lockport.

“If this local law causes a developer to back off, so be it. The intent is to protect our farmland and our environment,” said Legislator David E. Godfrey, R-Wilson.

Three solar projects of 900 acres or more are on the drawing board in the county. Projects by Bear Ridge Solar in Cambria and Pendleton and Ridge View Solar in Newfane and Hartland would cover farmland and have drawn significant public opposition. The Somerset Solar project, announced in April, would be installed around a defunct coal-fired power plant.

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