Frustrated homeowners: No ground-mounted solar in Chili?

August 01, 2019 11:27 PM

CHILI, N.Y. (WHEC) -- Frustrated homeowners interested in solar say their town has been slow to put rules in place for installation and they're now losing out on money because of it.  

In most cities and towns, a homeowner can put solar panels on their roof or on top of a shed without having to get approval but if you want to mount solar panels in your yard, that's a whole different story.


Aaron Grilly lives in the Town of Chili.  He wanted to put solar panels on his roof but there's too much tree cover so he opted for a solar array further back in his yard.

"We want to build solar panels for providing our electricity for our house. We got a new electric lawnmower, a new electric car, turning everything electric to try and do what we can to help the environment out," he tells News10NBC.

Grilly went to the town codes department to see if he needed a permit and was told, "the Town of Chili doesn't have any codes that would permit this sort of use," he says.

He was then encouraged to file a variance so his request could be heard by the planning and zoning board. So, that's what he did but then he got the exact same denial for the exact same reason.

"They've pretty much stuck with, 'we don't have codes to govern this install' so we can't do it," he adds.

"We don't want to deny them. We would like to embrace solar and let people bring that in but at the same time, we have to make sure that surrounding properties and neighbors and businesses are protected," Chili Town Supervisor David Dunning tells News10NBC.  

Dunning admits that Chili is a bit behind in setting a code for free-standing solar and because of it, they've actually turned away interest from solar farms. 

The current plan is to set a six-month moratorium on free-standing solar installs in the Town of Chili while the town figures out how to best make it work.

"The things that we need to address in this are things like setbacks and glare and size... is this personal use or personal use plus selling something to the system," explains Dunning.

Grilly thinks these are questions that should have been addressed years ago.

"At the end of 2019, there's a reduced federal rebate for this program. It goes from a 30 percent rebate to a 26 percent rebate.  So, we're going to take a financial hit if this goes into the next year," he explains.

But Dunning says, "It's not likely we will have an answer by the end of the year and I apologize to people who may be wanting to take advantage of tax breaks and incentives out there, my gut feeling is they'll be more."

The public hearing on the proposed six-month moratorium on solar installations in the Town of Chili is Aug.19 at 7 p.m.  


Jennifer Lewke

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