The pros and cons of solar farms

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PROS

CARBON-FREE. Energy produced at the solar farm would be carbon-free; the same amount generated at a conventional plant would emit an estimated 30,000 to 34,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.

MEETS GOALS. Project complies with state and federal goals to promote clean power, increases renewable energy infrastructure and reduces reliance on fossil fuels.

LEARNING. Scientists at Brookhaven National Lab can learn more about performance of large-scale solar projects and how weather impacts power generation.

CONS

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FEWER TREES. 150 acres would be cleared to make way for the farm; trees there now absorb an estimated 842 metric tons of carbon dioxide that would otherwise add to global greenhouse gas emissions.

PRICEY POWER. Solar power costs two or three times more than energy from conventional fuel plants.

AFFECTS BILLS. LIPA will pay an estimated $298 million to buy energy from the farm over its 20-year life; this project and another to draw power from solar carports at Suffolk County parking lots will together add about 83 cents a month to utility bills of LIPA customers.

- JENNIFER SMITH

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