New Haven Energy Advisory Council advocates for community shared solar initiatives

NEW HAVEN >> A resolution supporting community shared solar initiatives was voted through the Environmental Advisory Council Wednesday night.

The resolution, which now passes to the Board of Alders for consideration, states that the EAC is in support of a shared solar initiative and asks local legislators to pledge their support, as well.

“We’re not asking the city to do anything except to say this is what we want,” Kathy Fay, a member of the EAC, said. “We’re basically giving them our draft of what we want them to pass.”

The EAC was created to allow for residents to be able to present ideas and information to the mayor’s office and Board of Alders regarding environmental initiatives that would benefit the city and are of interest to the public.

The new community shared solar resolution points out that New Haven residents pay very high rates for electricity and a community shared solar program would help bring down rates and provide a more sustainable solution for energy provision in the city.

The document also states that New Haven residents have added barriers of living in multifamily homes or rental properties and cannot always install solar panels themselves. A community solar program allows neighbors to buy a share of a set of panels off-site and benefit from the sustainably-produced electricity, without putting panels on their rented roof.

“Some of this language is specific to New Haven energy issues,” Fay said. “It’ll help educate (the Board of Alders).”

A recent resolution voted on by the EAC in October calls on the Board of Alders to prohibit the use of pesticides in the city, as pesticides can contribute to nitrogen in rainwater runoff and ultimately pollute Long Island Sound.

The resolution is for a complete ban or broad reduction in use of pesticides in the city, according to the document that was passed on to the alders.

That anti-pesticide resolution is still being considered by the alders, EAC Chairwoman Laura Cahn said.

Cahn added that the pesticide resolution only addresses weed-killing chemicals, not insecticides.

The EAC meets the first Wednesday of every month in City Hall. Meetings include discussion of upcoming resolutions to send to the Board of Alders, voting on letters to be submitted as testimony in support of or against bills in the Connecticut General Assembly, and visits from environmental groups, advocates, or city department officials to address various environmental issues.