Jeanne and John Morelli have long grasped the benefits of renewable energy. A geothermal heat pump warms their house in the woods. Solar panels are fastened to the roof of their barn. Mr. Morelli, an emeritus professor of environmental engineering, designed his first device to capture the sun’s rays in the 1970s and he still teaches a course on corporate social responsibility. “The climate crisis, I have no doubt that it’s coming,” he said.
Yet the couple has also placed scarlet signs reading “No massive solar power plant” at the edge of their property. They are protesting against Horseshoe Solar, a photovoltaic project whose 600,000 panels would cover fields usually lush with corn and soyabeans in the Morellis’ picturesque town in upstate New York.
Projects such as Horseshoe underpin New York’s ambition to transform its energy system to spew less carbon dioxide. With the Trump administration disdaining the threat from global warming, state governments have been at the forefront of U.S. climate policy.
Flanked by former vice-president Al Gore, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year signed what he called “the most aggressive climate law in the United States of America.” Thousands of megawatts of new solar, wind and battery resources are now statutory mandates.