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Sanctuary Switches Solar

Monday, April 23, 2012

This 25 kilowatt solar array system will run the entire farm “off the grid” on sunny days. Despite a $132,000 New York State grant and the town of Woodstock’s officially proclaimed commitment to being carbon-neutral by 2017, it took almost 2 years of bureaucratic red tape to get the installation going!  Seems that a neighbor who apparently didn’t want to look at the panels found an obscure local law that considers solar panels to be lumped in as “accessory structures”—like guest cottages, etc.—and with all our barns and coops we were exceeding the number allowed.

The town’s Zoning Board had the power, in light of Woodstock’s green initiative, to grant a variance. Instead they refused, forcing us to spend substantial time and money pulling coops together and attaching them structurally to reduce the total number. It was a pretty unbelievable exercise, and the big loser was the environment—so many months lost of free electric from the sun!

All that behind us, the panels were finally installed and are cranking out the electrons! Many many thanks to New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), who issued the large grant, and Jason Spiotta and Todd Koelmel, proprietors of Woodstock’s Solar Generation, who were both very generous and very patient in this whole ordeal. It was them who first made us aware of the grant’s existence, and they donated about 2 weeks of labor to install the system. If you’re looking to make your power more green and local, you can reach them at or 845-679-6997. 


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