BY KRISTIN SCHULTZ
NISKAYUNA — GE wants to lasso the sun and store it in Niskayuna.
Managers of the GE Global Research Center have asked the Planning Board for approval to install 700 solar panels — for now — off River Road, just opposite the ball fields.
The panels would not connect to the grid, but rather would allow the company to conduct experiments involving batteries and battery storage. The project potentially could be expanded to as many as 2,300 solar panels.
The project first went before the Planning Board in late November. The board recommended that GE make sure there would be proper visual buffering.
The Conservation Advisory Council gave the thumbs-down to a proposed white vinyl fence, saying such a thing would look very out of place. The CAC also said “no” to arborvitae, an evergreen that looks like a miniature Christmas tree and is often used for residential and commercial landscaping.
The CAC recommended a minimally visible fence with natural groupings of plantings and a pollinator-friendly garden, and suggested GE make every effort to preserve the existing fruit trees.
The Planning Board told the four project representatives that a dark-colored chain-link fence would likely be acceptable, but not with slats to fill the links.
GE wants the fence to be 7 feet tall to comply with government regulations.
The Planning Board will hold a public hearing on the matter at its meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 8 in the Town Hall boardroom.