Lightstar Renewables, a greenfield community solar developer, is about to break ground on its Old Myers solar project, the first agrivoltaics project in New York.
Located in Wappingers Falls, Poughkeepsie, Old Myers is a 2 MW dual-use community solar project that spans a 15-acre family-owned site. The project will facilitate the Thompson family’s ability to keep the site in agricultural production while generating stable lease income over 25 years.
Construction on the project will begin soon and is expected to reach completion by summer 2024.
Agrivoltaics (AgPV) projects are dual-use solar installations, meaning crop production and grazing can happen in and around the solar array. Solar panels are mounted at enough height and space to allow adequate space for crops to grow and livestock to graze. The solar panels also provide protection to crops from extreme weather events, including storms, early and late frosts, and heat waves.
The Old Myers project will harvest strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, and lavender, among other produce, resulting in active market produce production for this agrivoltaics project in New York. Lightstar will be working with local institutions to study the produce grown and document the financial and agricultural case studies that will be disseminated widely.
“What many don’t realize is that solar and agriculture are perfect partners — their synergies are crucial to the security and resiliency of our community for green power as well as localized food sources. Lightstar’s Old Myers agrivoltaic project is a solution to this challenge — it combines crop production and sustainable energy production, proving harmonious coexistence is possible,” says Paul Wheeler, Founder and CEO of Lightstar.
Lightstar has been engaged with the farm owners since early 2022 to help rezone the property at no cost to the farmers. As a result, the farm encompasses a greater solar and crop use case, further improving productivity and efficiency. The company will support the full lifecycle of the project by continuously working with the farmers and community members to ensure long-term success.
Lightstar has partnered with American Farmland Trust (AFT) to drive regenerative agricultural practices, and lead projects using AFT’s Smart Solar Siting Principles as a cornerstone of its solar and farming.
Solar Agriculture Services (SolAg) has also been a key partner for Lightstar on the project, offering knowledge, oversight, consultation and advisory.
Residents and businesses will have access to electricity bill savings through discounted community solar subscriptions. The project will also create tax revenue for the local municipality.
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