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June 23, 2022 - 4:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in solar farm, Cypress Creek Renewables LLC, batavia, news.

img_1856solarproject.jpg

Three poles at each entrance of a pair of proposed solar projects off of Ellicott Street Road in the Town of Batavia will be less of an eyesore than four, members of the town planning board decided on Tuesday.

At one time, the developer, Cypress Creek Renewables, proposed four poles.

At Tuesday's meeting, project attorney Mark T. Sweeney, after a lengthy discussion of the topic, asked the planning board to commit to three poles if that is truly their desire.

"What we would ask then is that the board clarify the condition of approval to require us to have a maximum of three poles per project," Sweeney said. "Then we can agree, we can accept that and redo a redesign for that. What we really need tonight is to be able to walk away knowing what it is we have to do. So that would be my ask of you as a board is to clarify and modify that condition of approval so that we can do that."

The number of poles is not a straightforward design decision, Sweeney explained during Tuesday's discussion.  The equipment that is mounted on the poles can be placed on the ground but at much greater expense.  The design must be approved by National Grid. The ground-mounted equipment is big and bulky and must be fenced in. And ground-mounted equipment is a special order and supply issues are delaying delivery.

Introduced in June 2019, the proposal from Cypress Creek Renewables LLC calls for the construction of two solar farms on property owned by Don Partridge at 5117 Ellicott Street Road.

  • A 5-megawatt array on 18.2 acres of a 65-acre parcel of otherwise agricultural land, known as Trousdale Solar I;
  • A 4-megawatt system on 19.6 acres of a 71-acre parcel of otherwise agricultural land, known as Trousdale Solar II.

The four-pole plan Cypress Creek came up with for each project -- and that received a nod of approval from National Grid -- helped the company balance competing factors and the company sought to maintain that balance, Sweeney said. 

"There's a balance, you know, in what SEQR requires," Sweeney said. "The site plan evaluation requires a balance of the impacts versus the cost. One of the things we were looking at is just that element of it. I understand if there's a particular impact that is to be avoided, or identified that we weren't aware of, that's one thing, but just simply ground-mounting something at a significant cost would be -- for no significant benefit to the environment, from a visual standpoint -- would be in our position, something we've tried to avoid. "

When the equipment is ground-mounted, it must be placed on a two-foot-high base, Sweeney said. The equipment enclosure is six feet tall.  And because it is electrical equipment, it must be surrounded by a fence. 

"You do have some residual visual impact resulting from that installation," Sweeney said.

Board members asked why there couldn't be three poles at each location since other solar projects have been able to meet that requirement. 

Sweeney said he couldn't answer that question.

"I understand completely where you're coming from, and having consistency with other projects," Sweeney said. "I don't know why those projects have three. I don't know what their equipment lineup is. I assume that it's substantially similar, but it might be different. The project size might be different panel types, inverter types -- there's a whole level of engineering that goes into what may cause the number to be different. It could be that it could have been an earlier project that got a higher incentive from NYSERDA by being in a different block. So they had more money available to spend on that type of thing. There may not have been any landscaping associated with that project. They could take the money from the landscaping budget and put it into that. There are all kinds of different things of which we're not aware."

To help mitigate the visual disturbance of four poles, the poles were designed to be back from the roadway and screened from view by landscaping.

In the end, board members decided they would rather see only three poles on each site.

"I think even four poles with all the lines and all the stuff hanging out from them, it's just going to be an eyesore, not only for people who live there, but just driving by," said board member Jonathan Long. "It just doesn't fit in with the character of the neighborhood. In my opinion, saying that it's a cost to the project is, in my opinion --  this is going to be there 20-plus years, part of the scenery there; it's not going to go away. So the upfront costs are minor compared to long-term impacts."

Once Sweeney said he would like board action affirming they would accept three poles instead of four, a motion was made and passed.

Photo: Bridget Cuddihy, project developer for Cypress Creek, and Mark Sweeney, project attorney. Photo by Howard Owens.

Previously: 

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.

June 9, 2021 - 2:15pm

Press release:

Hecate Energy today announced that it has filed an application with the New York State Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES) to construct a 500-megawatt solar farm in the Western New York towns of Elba and Oakfield, representing the first new application to be submitted under the state’s new permitting process for large-scale renewable projects.

If approved and constructed, the Cider Solar Farm would be the largest solar project ever built in New York State.

The $500-plus million-dollar private infrastructure investment 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 more than 120,000 average New York households.

“This project provides a concrete example of the scale and speed with which we must move if we are to meet critical renewable energy goals,” said Harrison Luna, Hecate project lead. “We are very appreciative of the leadership demonstrated by Elba and Oakfield town governments for this important ‘model’ project.

"Our discussions have helped us understand how to plan the project considering the unique priorities of the communities where we want to become neighbors. Those officials have helped us balance the needs of the communities with the needs of the project.”

“Cider Solar will do more than create clean renewable energy to drive the new economy; it will also deliver significant new revenue to the local governments for decades to come and help fund essential services such as the volunteer fire departments, first responders, and Haxton Memorial Library in Oakfield."

Initially, the project sought leases and options for approximately 4,000 acres of land in the towns of Elba and Oakfield in Genesee County. As the understanding of local priorities grew clearer, detailed siting and study efforts allowed Hecate to refine the project’s footprint to approximately 2,800 acres of land across the two towns. Energy from the solar project is projected to offset over 420,000 tons of C02 per year, the equivalent of taking over 92,000 average cars off the road annually.

“Hecate Energy has been an excellent partner with our community since day one,” said Donna Hynes, Elba Town supervisor. “They’ve kept us informed and part of the process every step of the way. This project will bring welcomed jobs and needed revenues to the area for decades to come, while serving as an example for how to make renewable energy development part of a long-range economic plan.”

“This project will provide significant green energy into the grid,” said Matt Martin, Oakfield Town supervisor. “The commitments and financial resources Hecate brings to our community are welcomed additions. With the benefits to the town, the school district, and the local landowners involved, we are thrilled to be partnering with a leader in clean energy, and one that has a reputation of following through on its promises. We’ve been glad to have a cooperative relationship with the project thus far.”

New York State’s Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act, which includes Section 94-c of the Executive Law, enacted in 2021, created the new ORES and rules for the permitting of large-scale renewable energy projects. It is intended to enhance the siting and construction of projects that are environmentally responsible, cost-effective, and delivered in a timely manner with input from local communities.

Hecate’s Cider Solar 94-c Application, prepared by Buffalo-based Stantec Consulting Services in coordination with the law firm Foley Hoag LLP, is the first new application submitted to ORES under 94-c regulations, representing an important milestone in the State’s project permitting progress.

June 1, 2021 - 11:02am
posted by Press Release in business, NextEra Energy Inc., solar farm, GCEDC, STAMP, Power Plug.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Board of Directors will consider approving final incentives for a $345 million solar project in the Town of Byron, and construction of a campus-wide electrical substation at the Science Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP). Both matters will be discussed at the agency’s June 3 board meeting.

NextEra Energy Inc. is planning a $345.55 million Excelsior Energy Center utility scale solar farm project to be located on multiple agricultural properties in Town of Byron. The project is a 280 MW (AC) solar generation system, and a 20 MW 4-hour energy storage system, that will be interconnected with the electric grid.

The project will provide enhanced property tax payments via a 20-year PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) and host benefit agreements. The project will contribute $6,500/MWAC in total PILOT/host benefit payments annually + a 2 percent annual escalator over the 20-year term.

Resulting property tax-type benefits of the project in the Town of Byron, Byron-Bergen Central schools, and Genesee County are estimated at over $45.2 million.

NextEra Energy is seeking approximately $32.7 million in property and sales tax incentives. A public hearing on the proposed agreement was held April 19.

Plug Power Inc. is planning to invest $55 million toward a campus-wide substation at STAMP. The substation will enable 100 percent renewable, reliable electricity at less than $0.035/kwh to future tenants in partnership with the New York Power Authority and National Grid.

The proposed substation investment is in addition to the $232 million Plug Power is investing to build a green hydrogen manufacturing facility at STAMP. The facility is estimated to create 68 full-time jobs.

Plug Power is seeking approximately $2.8 million in sales tax incentives related to the substation construction. A public hearing on the proposed agreements will be held at 10 a.m. on June 3.

The GCEDC Board meeting is at 4 p.m. and because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic the meeting will be conducted via videoconference and can be viewed online at www.gcedc.com.

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