Type of Work

Research Paper

Publication Date



The mounting climate crisis, brought on by fossil fuel burning, requires ambitious climate solutions. By enacting the CLCPA (Climate Leadership and Protection Act) in 2019, New York has led the U.S. in its movement to cut greenhouse gas emissions and deploy renewable energy on a large scale. Acres of photovoltaic solar panels have been installed throughout the state in recent years. The rapid development of large scale solar has faced local opposition. The rationale behind community opposition reveals more complexity than the typical “Not In My Backyard” (NIMBY) argument. Residents of Kirkland, NY voiced their opinions of a proposed 60 acre solar farm near their homes. Through a series of interviews, we observed reasons for support and opposition of the project. While every individual supported renewable energy as a general concept for its movement away from fossil fuel reliance, there were varying degrees to which community members supported solar, as well as this specific project. Opponents were concerned by aesthetics, the siting on a floodplain, construction noise, impact on the landscape, and limited financial benefits. Many of these concerns followed typical NIMBYist patterns, as respondents discussed solar as a way of the future and an important climate solution. We conducted a demographic analysis which demonstrated that solar is implemented in primarily rural communities with white, low-income populations. Over time, likely influenced by the CLCPA, solar development has spread to increasingly politically conservative areas. The Kirkland case provided a foundation to consider and draw conclusions about the barriers to renewable deployment in rural communities.

Hamilton Areas of Study

Environmental Studies

Hamilton Sponsoring Organization

Levitt Public Affairs Center

Hamilton Scholarship Series

Levitt Summer Research Group Grant

Hamilton Faculty Advisor

Aaron Strong