Legislator Godfrey Says Local Law on Solar Panel Recycling Drafted

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By: Staff Reporter

Niagara County Legislator Dave Godfrey today said a first-of-its-kind local law in New York State that will hold manufacturers responsible for disposing spent solar panels is now drafted and will be presented to the Legislature on June 15.  The draft is now available for review at https://tinyurl.com/4h3f4ups.  Public comments are welcome at ncpio@niagaracounty.com and on the county’s Facebook page.  Residents are welcome to come speak on the proposal at a public hearing at 5:45 p.m. on June 15 at the Niagara County Courthouse.

“As I said when we began this process back in March, our community has the unfortunate legacies from the nuclear and chemical industries that were celebrated as the future technologies at the time but the waste from those technologies ultimately did major harm to our community,” said Godfrey.   “What we are proposing now will make sure we do not make that mistake with spent solar panels.”

Niagara County’s Environmental Coordinator, Dawn Timm, said the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) was instrumental in helping draft this legislation.

“PSI has the resources to engage the input of industry stakeholders and capitalize on the best practices of EPR programs from around the world and helped us put together a plan that is workable for us,” said Timm.  “We continue to believe a statewide effort would be the best approach, but we are not going to wait for the state to act.”

Godfrey said the local law creates a convenient, safe and environmentally sound system for the recycling of solar panels, minimizing hazardous waste and recovering commercially valuable materials.  A synopsis of provisions include:

  • No manufacturer, distributor, retailer or installer may sell or offers for sale a photovoltaic module in or into Niagara County unless the manufacture of the PV Modules is in full compliance with the local law.
  • Manufacturers are required to submit stewardship plans that ensure the convenient, safe and environmentally sound takeback and recycling of PV modules and installation components. Plan details are outlined in the law and the manufacturer or Stewardship organization must consult with the County.  The expense for this effort is fully borne by the manufacturer.
  • Prohibits the sale of any PV module in the County unless the manufacturer is in compliance. A fee of $100/module/day per panel sold will be enforced for those not in compliance.
  • Includes all PV modules sold for residential and commercial installations.

“The fact that New York State continues full speed ahead in ramming through industrial solar projects without addressing issues like this is unconscionable and is why I already have numerous phone calls from other local governments interested in following our lead,” said Godfrey.  “To that end, we are next going to begin an effort regarding fire safety readiness at the solar battery storage units tied to these projects, including what support and training manufacturers need to provide to emergency response agencies to be prepared should a fire or other emergency take place at a site.”

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