This Earth Day, let’s renew commitment to environment

Pat Harris of Caledonia

We all know that April marks the beginning of spring – as well as the start of Earth Month.

Fifty-one years ago, April 22 was named Earth Day, marking the beginning of the modern environmental movement. Since then, we’ve made some progress in protecting our earth by transitioning away from harmful fossil fuels and towards clean energy sources - and even expanded our celebration of Earth from one day to one whole month. Yet, while progress has been made since 1970, there is still significant work to be done to address climate change and protect New York for future generations.

Solar energy is key to reaching our clean energy goals, allowing us to harness one of our most powerful and consistent natural resources. Solar energy is currently the cheapest form of energy in history – yet New York only receives 2.46% of its electricity from solar energy today, enough to power just over 455,000 homes.

To fully take advantage of the power of the sun, we need to move forward with developing solar farms. Solar projects are critical to producing enough electricity to power our communities, ensuring everyone gets to benefit from clean, affordable power. Here in the Finger Lakes, we are close to realizing this vision. Horseshoe Solar, located in Livingston and Monroe Counties, represents one of the largest solar projects proposed in New York State. Horseshoe Solar will add 180 megawatts of clean energy to the state’s energy grid, enough to power up to 50,000 homes each year with zero emission power.

Solar projects like Horseshoe Solar also serve as economic generators – particularly at a time when New York is struggling to bounce back from the COVID-19 downturn. Horseshoe Solar will bring more than $30 million in community investment for schools, roads and bridges, healthcare and public safety. During construction alone, the project will create 300 good-paying, local jobs that will in turn support economic activity in the region.

With this Earth Day approaching, billions of people will participate in a day of action, calling on our elected officials, community figures, and international leaders to protect our planet. But we must remember, there are actions we can take here in our own community to realize a cleaner, brighter future. It’s time to build clean energy facilities across the state – why not start here in our own community.

Pat Harris is a retired college professor and author living in Caledonia. She has lived in the area for 12 years.

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