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Dewittville solar project still on hold

MAYVILLE — No decisions have been made on a proposed solar project in Dewittville.

The Chautauqua Town Board on last Monday was scheduled to continue its public hearing on the proposed 5-megawatt solar project that would be located on Hartfield-Stockton Road. Omni Navitas Solar Energy Development is the developer. No company officials were present at the town board meeting.

According to Supervisor Donald Emhardt, the company is supposed to send the town of Chautauqua money so the town can hire its own engineer to investigate the proposal.

“Unfortunately, the solar people have not gotten back to us with their contract and their check for our engineer, so nothing has been accomplished over the last month,” he said at the town board meeting.

Because of this, Emhardt said the public hearing from June will resume at their next town board meeting, which is scheduled for Aug. 9. He didn’t accept public comments because the town board had no new information and there were no company officials available to address concerns raised.

In May, Omni Navitas Solar Energy Development approached the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency seeking financial assistance through a Payment In Lieu Of Taxes agreement. The county IDA began doing its research on the project. The county IDA is scheduled to meet on July 27. The agenda has not been released yet for the July IDA meeting. County officials have said in the past they do not plan on issuing PILOT agreements for projects that local municipal governments oppose.

A number of residents attended the June public hearing, expressing concerns ranging from how the project will impact temperatures, if the project will negatively effect well water and/or Chautauqua Lake, the types of minerals required for solar projects, how a snowmobile trail will need to be closed, and if the decommissioning bond is large enough once the solar project has reached its usefulness.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has pushed to increase solar energy for state residents. On Tuesday, he issued a statement that said three gigawatts of solar have been installed across the state, enough to power more than half a million homes, “underscoring New York’s leadership in growing one of the strongest solar markets in the nation.”

According to the news release, since the launch of the NY-Sun initiative in 2011, solar has grown 2,100 percent statewide and declined in cost by 69 percent while fostering approximately 12,000 jobs across the state. “When combined with the projects that are under development, achieving today’s milestone represents 95 percent of the goal to install six gigawatts of solar by 2025,” as mandated in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

“Solar energy is a key component in New York’s transition to a clean energy economy as we work to reduce harmful emissions across the board and address the dual challenges of fighting climate change and rebuilding stronger post-pandemic,” Cuomo said in the news release. “The success of NY-Sun demonstrates we are on track to meeting our nation-leading energy goals while stimulating green job growth and economic recovery in communities across the state as part of our comprehensive plan to reimagine New York following the pandemic.”

Emhardt said in June there are “four or five” other developers looking into solar projects in the town of Chautauqua. None of those proposals have been made public.

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