Open-space deal seeds solar array
TIVOLI — Richard Biezynski does not sound like a typical farmer.
The first indication of that is his New York City accent, thick as pastrami on rye. His story also is unusual — a Queens guy who started as a florist, sold the family flower shop in 1981 and bought Northwind Farm on West Kerley Corners Road.
So perhaps it is fitting that his brand-new 150-panel photovoltaic array was the product of a similarly convoluted series of events, beginning with a complex land deal and ending with an announcement of the solar panels.
“Just another step in my evolution as a farmer,” he said.
How Biezynski ended up with enough solar power to run his farm for decades is the latest example of how federal and state grants and public-private partnerships are being used to preserve open space, support agriculture and foster sustainable energy.
“This,” Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said, “is a beautiful marriage.”
The process began in the fall when federal, state and private officials gathered at Northwind Farm to announce the purchase of conservation easements on 10 farms in Dutchess and Columbia counties.
Money for the $3.6 million deal came from the federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, Scenic Hudson, the Town of Red Hook and the state Environmental Protection Fund. The Dutchess Land Conservancy contributed toward ongoing stewardship and project expenses.
Biezynski said he received more than $500,000 in exchange for a guarantee that his farm would never be developed.
He used some of that money to front the initial costs for the solar array, purchased from Rhinebeck-based Hudson Solar for $182,000. Federal and state grants will reduce the out-of-pocket costs to $47,000.
The array will produce 28 kilowatts of clean energy, assuming Biezynski grabs a wrench and adjusts the tilt on the panels four times a year to track the sun’s arc. The power will cost one cent per kilowatt hour, compared with typical utility rates in the 11-13 cent range, said David Byrne, project manager for Hudson Solar.