About Gwendolyn Craig

Gwen is an award-winning journalist covering environmental policy for the Explorer since January 2020. She also takes photos and videos for the Explorer's magazine and website. She is a current member of the Legislative Correspondents Association of New York. Gwen has worked at various news outlets since 2015. Prior to moving to upstate New York, she worked for a D.C. Metro-area public relations firm, producing digital content for clients including the World Health Organization, the Low Income Investment Fund and Rights and Resources Initiative. She has a master's degree in journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She has bachelor's degrees in English and journalism, with a concentration in ecology and evolutionary biology, from the University of Connecticut. Gwen is also a part-time figure skating coach. Contact her at (518) 524-2902 or gwen@adirondackexplorer.org. Sign up for Gwen’s newsletter here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Rich Paolillo says

    Solar is not difficult to decommission compared to industrial wind farms. Solar has the benefit in that in 10, 20 or 30+ years time more advanced panels could be installed on the existing frame work.

  2. Pat Smith says

    We are dealing with Boralex in our town as well. They give us the same cookie cutter presentation. The state created ORES and 94c to try to stop residents from pushing back against these industrial size facilities. Setbacks allow sites to be built 250 feet from a home, 100 feet from a property line and 50 feet from the center line of roadways. Decommissioning is a joke with the town left holding a bond that will most likely not cover the cost. It will also allow any equipment below 3 feet underground to be left behind. They boast about new jobs. We will have 2 maintenance people employed once construction is done. Towns think they will receive some huge financial benefit. We have been told 4 million over 30 years. That’s $133,333 a year divided between the county, the local school district then the town. Our towns share will be about $9500.00 annually. All this on top of the fact that these facilities are incredibly ineffective. At 40 megawatts name plate rated this facility will actually generate around 5 megawatts. While I understand why a farmer struggling in this economy would dedicate some land to solar to help his bottom line the wholesale destruction of farmland and habitat is just beginning. It will take roughly 50-55 acres to generate 1 megawatt in NY. If we need 20000 megawatts statewide that means a approximately million acres of solar panels. I urge people to push back against ORES and any local officials who say nothing can be done.

    • LeRoy Hogan says

      I don’t understand towns thinking they would benefit when the solar farm will be on Jon Close’s land.

      I wonder how big does a solar farm have to be to become industrialized and will this proposed solar farm be that size?

      What is the bond amount going to be compared to future decomminishing costs? Wondering why thinking the bond is a joke.

      • Pat Smith says

        A PILOT(payment in lieu of taxes) agreement is made between the developer and the local tax districts. If there is a county IDA they will arrange the PILOT with the developer.
        I guess industrial size is in the eye of the beholder. When a project cross the threshold of 20 megawatts name plate rated it then falls under 94c and is reviewed by the state through ORES. This is when local municipalities are left out of the siting process. In my opinion, I believe most new projects will be 20 megs plus in order to try to bypass objections from local residents.
        94c section 900-6.6 reads in part the bond “shall be the net decommissioning and site restoration estimate plus a 15% contingency (which would mean one half percent yearly over the 30 life of the project in our town) LESS the total projected salvage value of facility components. How can you estimate the salvage value of something looking 30 years into the future? Once the cost of decommissioning is established by ORES the bond is written with the towns name on it. This is why the towns could be stuck with huge costs. I would prefer to see the state on the bond.

  3. Joe says

    If you listen closely you will see this for what it is. I have stated before I am 100 percent for solar just not on our food producing or forest producing land. And this is just that. Put the solar panels on our Mall roofs, over our parking lots, on our homes and barn roofs and down the medians or our highways where the infrastructure already exist.
    You realize where ever these panels go there has to be power lines run and transformers and poles and many other unsightly structures put in place to get the power to its final destination?
    Covering this kind of land with black glass can only lead to more destruction of our planet and the land. The grass, the fields, the forests are the lands that will clean our planet from the pollution we as humans make on a massive scale. If anything we need more grass and forest exposed to sunlight in order to filter out our pollutants.
    I am a farmer and I get how hard it is to make a living doing that.I have also been approached and am in the process of keeping the solar corporations out of my fields. We have other ways to help us farm and that would be to get the bureaucrats and the middle men out of our way and let us sell direct to the public and let supply and demand take hold again. In this way Jon Close and many other farmers wont have to rely on unstainable projects that harm instead of help our world. He and I can just farm and support our families.
    Dairy farmers are the hardest working people in the USA. Pay them for the real cost of producing their milk and we wont have to have this conversation.

    • Pat Smith says

      Thank you Joe. I agree with you 100%. Senator Hinchey introduced bill S7122 which prohibits solar build-ready-sites on farmland. The bill went to the governor in November 2022, which she promptly vetoed. A new version of the bill has been reintroduced by Senator Hinchey numbered S1416. I urge everyone to contact their local representatives, Senator Hinchey and the governor to support passage of this bill.

  4. nathan says

    i feel sorry for clos, the middle men steal all the money from Milk and though its close to $4 a gallon, a farmer gets maybe $0.05 to 0.08 per gallon. Pure theft.
    I hope the solar is raised up so at least it can graze cows.
    Why put solar panels over farm land and forest, reducing the sunlight and hence reducing the plants photosynthesis and carbon sequestering. But the solar over huge parking lots, it’s dead land, shades cars and can even recharge electric cars right there, build on roofs, over roadways. stop destroying farmland needed for the ever growing population, and the mu needed absorbtion of CO2. we talk about reforesting to save the planet, yet we keep destroying good land. Build where it’s smarter, maybe a higher initial cost, but cheaper than making more land!

  5. Gomer Pyle says

    Hinchey’s bill says:
    “Agriculture, and by extension, farmland, is an essential part of our
    economy and our culture in New York State. Unfortunately, many of our
    farms and much of our viable agricultural land, including small and
    mid-size family farms, is at risk to development. Legislation such as
    this helps to ensure that our world class farmland is preserved, and
    local sources of nutritious food are protected, for future generations.

    You claim to want to help the farmers and protect agriculture, but legislation like this backs farmers further into a corner and makes the situation much worse.

    Your idea to further restrict the freedom of farmers to do with their land what they see fit is not a viable solution. It will IN FACT, only lead to the quicker demise of the small and mid size family farms you seek to protect.

    You must first examine the root cause of the problem to determine a viable solution.

    Instead of further restricting the freedoms of farmers and backing them further and tighter into a corner, why don’t you solve the major issue at hand and fight to make the economics of farming are AFFORDDABLE.

    If farmers could at least get by financially–we would the having ANY of these problems. This is strictly a matter of having no money because the AG markets don’t pay enough to cover input costs, bills and taxes. FIX THAT PROBLEM FIRST UNLESS YOU WANT TO STARVE.

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