Portland Town Board sets hearing on solar project tonight

PORTLAND — A public hearing tonight will focus on a special-use permit for a solar energy facility that is proposed to be located on 22.8 acres of land at 5771 Route 20. The hearing precedes the Town Board’s monthly meeting and begins at 7 p.m. in the town hall.

The application has been submitted by Abundant Solar Power LLC for a solar energy overlay district as well as a facility. In November, the Town Board approved a resolution that would permit these types of projects.

Part of the push is the agricultural community is seeing a decline in farming and the demand for grapes, according to one resident. “Unfortunately we’re in a dying industry,” said Kevin Powell. “Agriculture in general is a dying industry and specifically the juice industry.”

Portland, like many other area municipalities, is trying to find common ground while also trying to move ahead with green energy options. In December, it also extended the moratorium on wind turbines.

Solar projects, however, have received almost full support of the board though the applicant still has to apply for a zoning change that would go through the Planning Board before coming to the Town Board.

Farther west, the town of Ripley also is facing a similar venture. An application by ConnectGen LLC is seeking a certificate of environmental compatibility and Public Need Pursuant to Article 10 to construct the South Ripley Solar Project of 270-megawatt of alternating current for a solar powered electric generating facility in the town.