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April 8, 2022 - 10:11am
posted by Press Release in GCC, solar, news, education.

Press release:

Genesee Community College has officially opened enrollment into its newest offering- the Solar Electric Technician Certificate for the Fall 2022 semester. Requiring a total of just 15 credit hours, this program is designed to be completed in as little as one semester. In addition, students can apply those credits toward a concentration within an Associate in Applied Science degree in Individualized Studies.

Careers in renewable energy in the form of solar electric (photovoltaic) grid systems are expanding rapidly throughout New York State both residentially and commercially. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for solar technology workers is projected to increase 50% over the next ten years which translates into roughly 6,000 new workers.

"Solar Tech skills have never been more relevant and more needed," said Director of Mathematics and Engineering Science, Christopher Kemp. "Solar projects from residential homes to major commercial solar farms are going up across the world and in our own back yards. The Solar Tech program is unique in that it can springboard directly into high-paying entry-level installer jobs, higher-level and specialized training, national accreditations, and four-year programs in renewable energy and the sciences. It can also enhance the current marketable skills of current practicing electricians, and educate individuals on the versatility and utility of solar technology. Starting out in solar is easy to do, and the opportunities are almost unlimited."

Upon graduation, GCC students are positioned to enter high-demand and lucrative solar-related employment opportunities, including residential and commercial solar panel installer, solar sales, solar electric maintenance, and recreational vehicle solar package installer.

Further details can be found at https://www.genesee.edu/home/academics/programs/tech/solartech/

Interested individuals are encouraged to apply for FREE online at https://www.genesee.edu/offices/admissions/apply/ or to call (585) 343-6800 or 1-866-CALL-GCC, or email [email protected].

March 14, 2022 - 1:15pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, town of batavia, Ray Tourt, solar.

The Batavia Town Board is expected to appoint Ray Tourt as the town’s highway superintendent at its monthly meeting on Wednesday night.

A resolution included in the meeting agenda has Tourt, who has announced his retirement as City of Batavia Bureau of Maintenance superintendent, moving into the position, effective April 4.

A city employee since 1999, Tourt’s last day with the city is March 30.

Town Supervisor Gregory Post today said that Tourt will serve out the remainder of this year before being placed on the ballot to run for the part-time, salaried position for three more years. It pays around $20,000.

Tourt would be replacing Tom Lichtenthal, who resigned, but continues to work for the town in an engineering capacity.

Also, on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall on West Main Street Road, is the setting of a public hearing for 7 p.m. April 20 (at the Town Hall) on “A Local Law to Amend the Town of Batavia Zoning Ordinance for Solar Energy Systems.”

For the past several months, the town’s solar committee worked to revise the law governing solar systems in the municipality and has come up with a final draft for the public’s consideration.

Previously: Town planners: solar law process is on the right track

Previously: Town solar committee asked to 'revisit' setback distances

 

January 26, 2022 - 11:22am
posted by Press Release in elba, Oakfield, Hecate Energy, solar, solar farm, Cider Solar Farm.

Press release:

Hecate Energy announced today that the application for its proposed 500- megawatt Cider Solar Farm in the towns of Elba and Oakfield, New York has been deemed complete by the New York State Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES). If approved by ORES, Cider Solar Farm would be the largest solar project permitted and constructed to date in the State of New York.

Established by Section 94-c of Executive Law, ORES is the newly established state office charged with implementing the timely consolidated review and permitting for major renewable energy facilities in New York State. Its acceptance of the Cider Solar Farm application is the first time ORES has deemed a renewable energy application complete.

“This is the first 94-c application to be deemed complete by ORES, which is a significant milestone for renewable energy in New York,” said Harrison Luna, Cider Solar Farm’s project developer. “The establishment of ORES and the 94-c permit process underpins the state’s commitment to supporting sustainable power, and we’re fortunate to be in a position to use it to bring clean, homegrown electricity to Genesee County. We are encouraged both by the transparency brought to the permitting process by ORES and the comprehensiveness of that process, and we believe this project will be an excellent addition to the next generation of sustainable power supply in New York State.”

The completed permitting application for Cider Solar Farm was extensive and comprehensive. It included 6 bound volumes and more than 96,000 pages of detailed analysis of data from studies assessing the proposed project’s effect on the host communities. Surveys were commissioned regarding a wide range of environmental, cultural, land use, and socioeconomic considerations such as wetlands and streams, wildlife habitat, nearby traffic patterns, cultural resources, noise and vibrations, visual effects from nearby areas, site security, and other potential concerns.

If approved by ORES, Cider Solar Farm would be built on nearly 3,000 acres in the towns of Elba and Oakfield in Genesee County. It is expected to create over 500 construction jobs and will be capable of supplying 920,000 megawatt-hours of renewable electricity per year – enough to power over 120,000 average New York households. Clean energy from Cider Solar Farm is expected to offset 718,694 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, which according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is equivalent to the annual emissions from 141,794 passenger vehicles.

“For years people have talked about bringing economic development to upstate New York. This milestone is a very positive sign to other developers who are considering bringing their investment, jobs, and sustainable energy projects to this region,” said Luna. “The New York State Legislature, Governor Hochul, and ORES are to be commended for following through and making this happen. Together with the renewable energy industry, we are finally bringing long-term, sustainable economic development to the upstate region.”

To learn more about Hecate Energy and the proposed Cider Solar Farm, visit the project website at www.CiderSolarFarm.com.

January 21, 2022 - 9:08am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Batavia Town Planning Board, solar.

Members of the Batavia Town Planning Board are giving high marks to the committee that has been working on revising the town’s solar law over the past few months.

Planners discussed the committee’s progress at their meeting Tuesday night, agreeing that the latest draft presented to the public – while in need of a few tweaks – represents a major step toward rules and regulations that remove most of the guesswork for those desiring to install solar farms and for their neighbors.

“It’s a roadmap for developers .. the rules are pretty straightforward,” said board member Steve Tanner, one of four planning board members on the committee (the others being Don Partridge, Paul McCullough and Brittany Witkop).

Tanner said that guidelines concerning landscaping, screening, setbacks, fencing and size of the project will make it easier for solar companies to develop their proposals.

McCullough concurred, stating that a law that is documented and codified will leave “very little interpretation as to what can and cannot happen.”

Witkop and Partridge said they appreciated input from the public – with Witkop noting that the group is looking to modify some of the setback requirements as a result of comments from citizens at an informational session last month.

Town Building Inspector Dan Lang termed changing some of the setbacks “a realistic vision” and said the process is nearing the point of conducting a State Environmental Quality Review, public hearing and county review.

Town Engineer Steve Mountain said that he reviewed the proposed solar law as well.

“It included all of the circumstances and ambiguities we’ve seen over the past five years,” he said.

Committee Chair Chad Zambito, a town council member, has indicated a final draft will be ready in a couple weeks.

In other Town of Batavia news, Supervisor Gregory Post reported that 11 building permits for residential homes were issued in 2021, with an assessed value of $4.1 million, and that 26 commercial/industrial permits were issued, “which generated several tens of millions of dollars in assessed value.”

Post said that projects on Route 98, Park Road and King’s Plaza (water main) as well as meter renewal are ramping up, leading to a “positive forecast for the community’s economic portfolio …”

Also, the Town Board voted to continue its support of the Batavia Soccer Park on Bank Street Road at the $10,000 annual level for two more years.

Previously: Town solar committee asked to 'revisit' setback distances

October 4, 2021 - 10:55am
posted by Press Release in solar.
Event Date and Time: 
October 26, 2021 - 9:30am to 1:30pm

Navigating Solar Lease Agreements and the Solar Development Process:

A Program for NY Farmers and Rural Landowners

 

Date: Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Time: 9:30am to 1:30 pm

Location: CCE Genesee – 420 E Main St., Batavia

Registration: Visit our website to register - genesee.cce.cornell.edu/events/2021

July 9, 2021 - 1:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, news, solar, notify, CleanChoice Energy Community.

cleanengeryprojectleroy2021.jpg

Concerned about setting a bad precedent, the Genesee County Planning Board on Thursday rejected a proposed public utility use variance for a solar project on farmland at 7120 Thwing Road, Le Roy.

County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari told Ty Baccile, project manager, solar development for Washington, D.C.-based CleanChoice Energy, that the company was going in the wrong direction requesting a public utility use variance.

"I think you skipped a step in not getting an interpretation from the (Le Roy) Zoning Board of Appeals," Oltramari said. "It falls under their jurisdiction to provide a definition for a public utility. If they determine you fall within that definition, then just apply for a special use permit."

CleanChoice Energy began working with Gary W. Clark and his family of farmers in 2019 on siting the project but since developing the initial proposal, the Town of Le Roy has passed new solar farm regulations. The regulations' new code means a project such as this must fall within the definition of a public utility.

Based on prior case law and state codes, Oltramari said the county planning board can't make that determination without setting a precedent that would affect solar project zoning codes in other towns.

However, if the Le Roy ZBA determined the project fit the public utility definition, then the decision remains confined to how Le Roy interprets its own codes.

The Clark family, three generations of farmers with more than 575 acres of cropland in Le Roy and Stafford, settled on a solar project as a way to supplement and diversify their company's revenue stream. The proposed project represents 5 percent of the farm acreage and is considered less suitable farmland.

CleanChoice Energy is proposing a 4.95-megawatt solar project on the property.

The project, under state law, is defined as a "Community Solar Project." Solar power from such projects is only distributed locally and cannot be carried to other regions via transmission lines.

There is a limited hosting capacity for these types of solar projects.

Substations and three-phase distribution feeds can only support a small number of these projects and facilities must be sited close to substations.

The projects are also limited by a shortage of land suitable for hosting them. Environmental, regulatory, and permitting constraints at potential host sites eliminate many properties from consideration. Prime farmland, wetlands, land hosting threatened and endangered species, and acreage that's just too expensive are not viable options. 

Among the selected parcel's advantages are: that it is relatively flat; will connect to existing National Grid power lines; will not interfere with farm operations; few trees will need to be removed; and existing trees and bushes create a visual barrier; it sits at the top of a hill --making it less visible to surrounding residents (nobody is looking down on it).

Motorists on Thwing Road won't be able to see the solar project as they drive by, said project manager Baccile.

Electricity generated by the project would be transferred to National Grid for distribution daily to customers enrolled in the CleanChoice's Community Solar Program. The project would generate enough energy to power 800 to 850 homes in the Town of Le Roy and surrounding towns.

According to a document from CleanChoice, "Based on National Grid Standard Service electric supply rate and a customer average monthly use, the project is expected to create an energy supply saving of approximately $60,000 annually. Energy bills are a combination of supply prices, which are based largely on market conditions, and delivery prices, which are set by regulation. Customers choosing to subscribe to the project benefit by the monthly savings regardless of usage, weather, or market price fluctuations."

Town of Le Roy residents would get the first shot at subscribing to the program.

Photo: Aerial photo from the project proposal application.

February 4, 2020 - 10:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, Borrego Solar, solar, news.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Board of Directors will consider accepting applications for assistance from Borrego Solar for five community solar projects at the GCEDC’s Feb. 6 board meeting.

Borrego Solar is investing approximately $21.6 million, which would generate 22 megawatts of energy for residential and commercial subscribers. The five projects are estimated to generate $2.092 million in revenues to the municipalities and schools where the projects are located.

In the Town of Batavia, Borrego Solar has submitted applications for assistance for three solar farms that would be located at 5230 Batavia-Stafford Townline Road (Elba Central School District), 3104 W. Main Street Road (Pembroke Central School District) and 3232 W. Main Street Road (Pembroke Central School District).

If approved, the proposed Payment In Lieu Of Taxes  -- PILOTs -- for the three Town of Batavia projects are estimated to generate $390,041 in revenues to Genesee County, $433,033 in revenues to the Pembroke Central schools and $318,292 in revenues to the Elba Central schools over 15 years.

In the Town of Pembroke, Borrego Solar has submitted applications for assistance for two solar farms that would be located at 241 Knapp Road East (Akron Central School District) and 241 Knapp Road West (Akron Central School District).

If approved, the proposed PILOTs for the two Town of Pembroke projects are estimated to generate $364,711 in revenues to Genesee County and $586,427 in revenues to the Akron Central schools.

Since all the projects are requesting more than $100,000 in incentives, public hearings will be scheduled for comment and feedback to the requests.

November 16, 2017 - 4:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in solar farms, solar, news, notify.

solarfarmconstructnov162017.jpg

The state provides a tax exemption to industrial solar projects and until recently county officials didn't realize they had any say on whether to allow these exemptions.

Typically, the projects are built on farmland and the county can continue to tax the property at the established assessed value, but if the solar farm increases the assessed value of the land -- typically 10 acres -- then the property is exempt from taxes on the amount of the assessment increase.

The options for the county are to opt-out, through a local law, on the tax exemption, or establish a PILOT on projects on a case-by-case basis.

PILOT stands for Payment In Lieu of Taxes, and typically a PILOT ramps up the amount of payments made as a percentage of the increase in assessed value over a period of years.

Under state law, the solar farm properties are exempt from taxes on the increase in assessed value for 15 years for county, town and school taxes.

"I think everybody should be able to do what they want with their land but the real issue is the state telling us what we can’t tax them on," said Legislator Andrew Young during a discussion of the issue during yesterday's Ways and Means Committee meeting. "Because of that reason, I think we should at least do something to maintain a little control."

By consent, the committee agreed to have County Attorney Kevin Earl draft a local law to have the county opt-out of the exemption.

There are three solar projects under construction and all three were started before the county learned it had the choice to opt-out of the exemption or establish a PILOT.

The issue came to the county's attention because the builders of a fourth project on Pearl Street Road came to the county and volunteered to pay a PILOT.

That caused Legislator John Deleo to wonder why the company would volunteer for to make PILOT payments.

"I think they know counties are going to start taxing everybody, so they’re going to get ahead of it and don’t want to get stuck with the full no-exemption later on," suggested County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens.

It's unclear if the county can go back to the projects already under construction and void the exemption or require a PILOT.

The company with the project on Pearl Street Road told county officials that not only did they anticipate building other projects in the county, but that officials should expect more solar companies seeking farmland for solar farms locally.

The developers typically lease the farmland at $6,000 a year for 15 years.

Legislator Marianne Clattenburg said that should be a big concern to legislators.

"My fear is we have pretty reasonable land costs here and that these are going to pop up everywhere and it’s open season because Geneses County hasn’t really established any kind of policy regarding (solar farms)," Clattenburg said. "If other counties do start doing it, then we’re going to get the brunt of it all."

Legislator Shelly Stein noted that two of the three solar farms going in are on "wet land," less than prime farmland, and that she's aware of four projects proposed in Le Roy that were turned down by National Grid because the nearest power station is over capacity already.

Hens said the typical project is 2.5 megawatts and costs $5 million to build.

How they should be assessed has yet to be established.

If the Pearl Street Road project goes forward and PILOT is instituted, it won't produce any revenue for the county before 2020, maybe in 2019.

Kevin Andrews, deputy county treasurer, said the PILOT payments won't help the county increase its overall tax levy.

"There’s no overall revenue benefit to the county at that point," Andrews said. "It’s more of a shift so the solar companies are picking up a little extra versus the rest of the taxpayers."

Photo: Taken today of a solar project under construction off State Street Road near West Saile Drive.

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