An aerial view of panels on the new solar farm...

An aerial view of panels on the new solar farm outside of Brookhaven National Labs in Upton, N.Y. (May 11, 2011) Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

A new front has opened in Long Island's NIMBY wars. The target: a proposed solar farm in Shoreham.

This is a striking departure from fights over housing, convenience stores and Sonic restaurants. While one could argue philosophically that we really don't need another 7-Eleven or strip mall, virtually no one disagrees that solar power is a vital part of our energy future. This new battle is purely not-in-my-backyard, and it's misguided.

The brouhaha is over a proposal to mount 50,000 solar panels 10 feet above ground on 60 acres of what is now the DeLalio sod farm. Opponents worry about losing rural views; a buffer of trees or other landscaping would protect that. Some cite health worries -- ignoring the lack of scientific evidence of such harms and the thousands of people who have panels on the roofs of their houses.

Leading the opposition is Marc Alessi, a former state assemblyman and current Long Island Power Authority trustee, who cynically and disingenuously claims the solar farm project was advanced "in secret" and typifies "big solar running roughshod." Surely, Alessi knows LIPA signed a 20-year contract last year to buy power from the solar farm. Brookhaven Town held several community meetings over the past year on a land-use plan for the area that suggested a solar farm as a possible use for the sod farm. And the town notified neighbors of a zoning board hearing for the solar farm in July and of a planning board meeting at the end of August.

The Shoreham Civic Organization has given the solar farm its blessing, citing its clean energy and environmental benefits. That's the right response. Let the sunshine work in Shoreham.


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