Good Morning
Good Morning
Long IslandSuffolk

Riverhead adopts 12-month moratorium on new commercial solar energy applications

Solar panels at Long Island National Golf Club

Solar panels at Long Island National Golf Club in Riverhead pictured in 2019. The Riverhead Town Board voted Tuesday to adopt a moratorium on new commercial solar applications. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

The Town of Riverhead has adopted a yearlong moratorium on new commercial solar energy applications.

The Town Board voted 4-0 at its regular meeting Tuesday to adopt the 12-month moratorium to give the town time to update its comprehensive plan with a chapter outlining balancing needs for renewable energy with a preservation strategy for agriculture in Riverhead. Officials had been considering the move amid concerns from residents in the Calverton area that too many solar projects had been proposed or enacted in years past.

Councilman Frank Beyrodt abstained from the vote.

Councilwoman Catherine Kent, who voted in favor of the moratorium, said Tuesday it came "a little too late" after two solar projects — the 36-megawatt Riverhead Solar 2 solar farm in Calverton and a 22.9-megawatt commercial solar facility by LI Solar Generation, a venture with NextEra Energy and National Grid — were approved earlier this year. However, Kent said the moratorium was necessary as the town takes time to decide how to move forward with future projects.

"I think it is important to take a pause," Kent said, adding she would like to see North Fork Environmental Council vice president Mark Haubner and others who know about solar come in to speak to the town in the future.

Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguiar told Newsday on Wednesday the town had previously considered a moratorium last year but it was tabled after a public hearing in September 2020 due to pushback from environmental groups and renewable energy advocates.

Toqui S. Terchun, president of the Greater Calverton Civic Association, on Wednesday questioned why the town had not acted when her civic group had contacted them last year to enact a solar moratorium.

A letter dated Sept. 10, 2020, from the group asked the board to make the NextEra and Solar 2 projects part of the moratorium and enact a moratorium on further industrial development in the Calverton area "until a comprehensive and cumulative approach to zoning and the extent of industrial development" in the community could be determined.

Of the Town Board's unanimous vote Wednesday, Terchun told Newsday, "It’s an inadequate moratorium. It’s too little, too late."

Latest Long Island News