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Solar panel debate heats up in Ballston

Vote likely next week on legislation that would limit use of freestanding arrays

Ballston resident Terri Robben spoke out against the town’s proposed legislation concerning residential solar installations. Board member Bill Goslin, seated in the background, listened intently to a number of residents as they voiced their opinions about a possible moratorium on freestanding installations.

Ballston resident Terri Robben spoke out against the town’s proposed legislation concerning residential solar installations. Board member Bill Goslin, seated in the background, listened intently to a number of residents as they voiced their opinions about a possible moratorium on freestanding installations. Photo by Julie Cushine-Rigg.

— Similarly, resident Polly Windels worried Ballston would appear backward if it were the only town in the county to pass restrictions on solar panels.

“We’ll look like jerks if we go through with this,” she said.

Terri Robben of Midline Road said she has solar power at her home and as such has very low electric bills. She said setting an example for future generations is important.

“Solar power is one of the biggest parts of that as well as wind energy and other things to save money and save energy and save wars,” Robben said. “I understand that some people may not like something that looks ugly in their neighborhood…we have to stop worrying so much about that stuff.”

There were those who advocated for regulation, however. Ivan Botsford said if solar panels were required to be oriented horizontally it would be more aesthetically pleasing. The panels at the property on Long Creek drive are set vertically.

“It is a structure and the town does have some obligation to try to control some of these issues,” he said. “You never know what’s going to go up next.”

Southworth said it is likely the board will discuss and possibly vote on the law at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 7 at 7:30 p.m.

“I’m not in favor of this legislation,” she said. “We tried to work a compromise initially … but when it changed … to 10 feet, that's just extremely restrictive in my eyes.”

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