Officials say a 200-acre solar farm planned at Long Island's Brookhaven National Laboratory would be the largest of its kind in the Northeast.
The energy company BP Solar wants to build the equivalent of a 32-megawatt generator, enough to power 4,500 homes.
The U.S. Department of Energy, which operates the lab, will host the clean-energy project in exchange for research opportunities.
"We're building a power plant that's run by nature and does not put harmful pollutants into the air that we breathe," Gordian Raacke, of Renewable Energy Long Island, told Newsday. "Someday we'll look back on this like we did the first unmanned satellites. This is the beginning of our clean-energy future, and it's happening right here on Long Island."
The lab is not bound by the Long Island Pine Barrens Act, but generally complies with it. The act is designed to protect rare species and aquifers that supply drinking water.