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PSEG Long Island Promises Improved Transparency In Placement Of Solar Panel Farms

SHOREHAM, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- In response to criticism from community leaders who claim projects are winning approval out of public view, PSEG Long Island is vowing to create greater transparency about the location of future solar panel farms.

According to PSEG, 51 solar projects have been approved on Long Island, and 76 more are on the way, CBS 2's Carolyn Gusoff reported. Some will sit atop box stores; others will change the look of open space.

PSEG Promises Improved Transparency In Placement Of Solar Panel Farms

Brookhaven civic leaders found out about solar projects through what they call a confusing and vague website.

"They need to bring the people into the conversation," said John Sicignano, president of the Mastic Park Civic Association.

"It's not a transparent process, and secondly, we have a policy: We don't trade green for green," said Mary Ann Johnston, president of the Affiliated Brookhaven Civic Associations. "Energy independent by destroying the thing that makes oxygen is just stupid."

PSEG said public disclosure isn't its job. Local governments must inform communities about plans for solar farms, it said. But the utility acknowledged there has been an information gap.

PSEG spokesman Jeffrey Weir told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs the utility is revamping its website to provide more details.

"What can we do to be better? What can we do to do more for our customers? And if it's just putting up information and making it easily digestible and understandable, then we're going to do that," Weir told Xirinachs.

Shoreham residents are fighting against plans to build 10-foot-high solar panels across 60 acres of open land. It would generate energy, but none of it would directly benefit those who live nearby.

"I think renewable energy is the future, but a project of this size and magnitude should not be done this quietly," said Marc Alessi, a LIPA trustee.

Neighbors fear what a solar farm might do to their property values and health.

"An industrial-sized solar power plant -- although it is green energy, which we are in favor of -- does not belong on land that is zoned residential," said Jessica Hiney, of Shoreham.

The company behind the Shoreham solar farm claims there are no health dangers, and it plans to be a quiet, clean and responsible neighbor. The town of Brookhaven has not yet ruled on the project.

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