ALBANY – The two state reps for Chautauqua County have introduced legislation that would require developers of industrial solar and wind farms to have a plan for when the facilities reach the end of their life span.
New York State Senator George Borrello and Assemblyman Andrew Goodell are pushing for a reclamation bond, which would ensure the proper decommissioning, reclamation, or recycling of wind turbines and solar panels once they have reached the end of their useful life.
Although the New York Environmental Conservation Law currently requires reclamation bonds for natural gas wells, gravel pits, mining operations; there is no comparable requirement for solar or wind projects.
The duo say the danger is that the owner of a solar or wind project might lack the financial resources necessary to properly decommission and dispose of it.
Wind-turbine blades and solar panels typically have a working life of 25 to 30 years. However, numerous wind and solar projects have failed prematurely, required expensive repairs, or have been abandoned already.
The bill will require applicants for permits from the Public Service Commission and from the Office of Renewable Energy Siting for solar and wind projects to provide bonds “in an amount sufficient to ensure proper reclamation of the solar or wind project at the end of its useful life.”
Many windmill blades currently have low scrap value and are not very appealing to recyclers. As a result, many spent turbine blades are piling up in landfills. Likewise, once solar panels are no longer commercially viable, the panels need to be removed and/or replaced. Solar panels are constructed from many components, making recycling a complex and expensive process.
Borrello and Goodell urged their colleagues in the Senate and Assembly to protect the environment, their communities and their neighbors by supporting their reclamation bond bill.