Update: Aug. 19, 4 p.m.
Keddy Chandran, project director for NextEra Energy Resources, headquartered in Vero Beach, Fla., said he is working on an open house for Byron residents that will take place on Sept. 10 at a site to be determined.
Chandran said two sessions will be scheduled – from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 5 to 7 p.m. He and other company representatives and solar experts will be on hand to provide details of the project and answer questions.
“We’ll be set up with our poster boards (to provide information),” said Chandran, adding that the company will be sending out mailers and posting ads to notify the public of the meeting place.
“We seek public involvement throughout the process,” he said. “It’s important to have a good relationship with the community.”
Chandran said NextEra Energy Resources said several factors led them to the Town of Byron, including available transmission lines, lack of environmental constraints, land favorable to solar and reaching agreements with land owners.
He said that his firm will be requesting a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes agreement) with the Genesee County Economic Development Center.
“In this way, we can direct revenues to the town, county and school district (providing) more (money) than what the land does in its current use,” he said.
He also hopes to forge a separate Host Community Benefit Agreement with the Town of Byron that would generate funds for sought-after local projects.
Chandran would not say how many farm owners have entered into contracts with his company and would not comment on the specifics of the lease agreements with the farmers. He did say that the projects are designed for a 30-year window.
As far as town and county input is concerned, Chandran said that the Town Board and Genesee County each could nominate one representative to serve on the Siting Board.
The Town of Byron is in the process of hiring an attorney as it waits for officials of Excelsior Energy Center LLC to schedule an informational meeting about a proposed 1,500- to 2,000-acre, 280-megawatt solar energy project.
Town Supervisor Roger Rouse today confirmed that the Town Board will be utilizing legal services as it navigates the details of the plan, which is being constructed under Article 10 of the state Public Service Law.
“This being an Article 10 (project), we really end up being on the outside workings of it,” said Rouse, who said he anticipates a presentation by the company soon, but didn’t know the exact date.
Last week, the board was advised by a civil engineer to seek legal counsel familiar with Article 10 and its many requirements.
According to information on the New York State Energy Research & Development Agency website, electric generating facilities larger than 25 megawatts are sited per the Article 10 law, which guides the NYS Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment (Siting Board) about authorizing construction and operation of major electric generating facilities.
The Article 10 process features four steps – public involvement program (informational meetings), preliminary scoping statement (details of the project), formal application to the Siting Board, and siting board decision (to issue or deny the certificate).
In April, Excelsior Energy Center, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources LLC, revealed that it hopes to have the solar farm operational by 2022. Construction is expected to take between nine and 12 months.
Excelsior’s website proposes that the solar array will create 300 to 350 jobs during construction, with the $40 million construction labor budget resulting in three to four full-time permanent jobs.
Through land agreements with town farm operators, it will support farms with 70 current employees while generating “millions in revenue to the county, town and school district to invest in infrastructure, additional services, and resources for residents.”
The solar farm also will feature a 20-megawatt/four-hour energy storage system that will charge exclusively off the solar array, according to the website.
Developers contend that the Town of Byron “possesses the critical elements required for a strong solar and energy storage project, including a strong solar resource; existing road infrastructure, access to transmission infrastructure, and available land in an area well-suited environmentally to host such a project.”
The Batavian left a message with an Excelsior Energy media relations representative this morning, seeking more information from someone close to the project.