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Brant is taking steps to go green

BRANT — The town of Brant has announced that the next step of its ongoing green energy effort will be the installation of solar panels at the town hall.

The Brant Town Board authorized Supervisor Leonard Pero to move forward with the project, via a 3 – 1 vote (Councilman Don Clark cast the lone dissenting vote); this decision will involve spending a portion of a $100,000 municipal grant given to the town by New York Sen. Mark Grisanti.

Clark said that he voted “nay,” because he said he wanted to see the proposal in writing, before agreeing to move to forward with the project.

“Sen. Grisanti has given the town an opportunity, with municipal funding, to be able to put solar panels on our town hall,” Pero said. “By doing that and by talking with Solar Liberty and finding that there is some grant money available, we are actually going to get a solar system installed at our town hall for free, basically. That’s going to take away 100 percent of our utility costs in the town hall, which amounts to roughly $10,000 annually.”

The supervisor said that this will be “a big thing for a small community.”

He added, “Originally, we were going to go with a generator; an emergency generator that could only be used when it’s needed, whereas solar panels are working all the time and will be here for 25 – 30 years. It’s a tremendous asset to our community and I’m proud to be a part of it. I’m happy with Sen. Grisanti, I’m happy with Solar Liberty, and I’m happy that the town can be part of this.”

The original price to put solar panels on the roof of the town hall was $151,125, which would take care of 75 percent of the building’s electric bill, according to Pero, who added that, with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and Solar Liberty’s working together with the town, the total cost would be reduced by $60,450, down to a total of $90,675.

Pero asked Solar Liberty to knock off an additional $10,000 so Brant could also purchase a plate reader for the police department, but was told that this was not possible, at the time.

“I think it’s better than a generator in a sense, because it’s a lot better to have solar panels than a generator, which is only used temporarily,” Pero said. “After looking at that, I asked Grisanti if we could switch to using the funds for solar panels and he thought it was a great idea. I wanted to announce that we are going to have a new set of solar panels on our town hall, which will save the taxpayers thousands of dollars.”

In addition to continuing its own green energy efforts, Brant has announced plans to work toward Erie County’s abolishing the solar sales tax for commercial businesses.

“The town of Brant is working in conjunction with Erie County, to create jobs right here in Western New York, and believe it or not, it has been done through solar energy,” said green energy activist Bill Henry. “Back in June, myself, as a member of the Friends and Neighbors Advocating Better Green Living, met with Supervisor Leonard Pero, to discuss ways to create more jobs in our area. We also looked at what New York state did last year, getting rid of the solar sales tax for commercial businesses.

“By getting rid of this sales tax, we can do the same thing we did for residential systems and increase our solar here in Erie County,” he added. “You don’t often hear about solar energy, because it’s boring; I’ll be the first to admit it. But you know what isn’t boring? When you get your electric bill and that’s what our companies in our area need to look at: their utilities. If we can reduce that overhead here in Erie County for these companies, we’re going to be creating a lot of jobs. We need to keep our youth here and we need to create more jobs here.”

Brant passed a resolution in favor of the removal of this sales tax this past July, while the town of Evans came on board in August.

Henry said there are many other municipalities in the county that also wish to remove this tax.

“Thanks to Supervisor Pero who, along with the Association of Governments, convinced all the local municipalities in Erie County to join with us on this,” Henry said. “Also, Legislator John Mills put a resolution before the Erie County Legislature, which was ultimately passed unanimously, to conduct a study on the possibility of exempting the local sales tax.”

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