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3 solar projects get tax breaks, more proposed

OBSERVER Photo by Gregory Bacon Pictured are some of the members of the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency in Jamestown. Half of the board met Tuesday in the BWB building, while the other half met at the Fredonia Technology Incubator in Dunkirk. The meeting was also streamed on YouTube.

Tax breaks have been approved for three solar projects in Chautauqua County while tax breaks for four others are being reviewed.

During a meeting Tuesday of the county Industrial Development Agency, board members unanimously backed Payment In Lieu Of Tax payments for solar projects in French Creek, Hanover and the town of Pomfret.

FRENCH CREEK

Omni Navitas Solar Energy of Boston, Mass., is the developer for the 3.3-megawatt French Creek project, which will be constructed at 10256 Old Road and be placed on 23 acres of land. The company has 65 acres total. Peter Mcauliffe with Omni Navitas spoke with the IDA virtually Tuesday to discuss the project. The development is expected to cost $3,376,000 to construct. A gravel road will be placed for access to the project.

Carol Rasmussen, project with the county IDA, said electricity generated would go to the grid and sent to consumers in the area. It’s sold to consumers in the form of energy credits.

The county IDA served as lead agency for the State Environmental Quality Review. Rasmussen said the investigation showed no adverse effects on the environment. The land is currently a hayfield. Mcauliffe said they will do some planting to help screen the project.

The IDA Board of Directors approved a 25-year PILOT agreement. Mcauliffe said the development may very well continue past 25 years. In that case, the tax break agreement would be expired and property taxes would be collected.

He said there is a decommissioning plan in place. When the time comes and the project is no longer generating as much electricity as they would like, the panels will either be sent to underdeveloped countries, which are currently accepting used solar panels, or they would be recycled.

The project is expected to generate five construction jobs and and one part-time permanent position for vegetation management. Once construction begins, it takes about four months to build. Mcauliffe said they plan to look locally for construction employees first.

Mcauliffe expressed his appreciation. “I want to thank everyone for support on this project. We look forward to this project as well as future projects in Chautauqua County,” he said.

POMFRET

Pomfret’s solar project is scheduled to be constructed on 28 acres of land located at 10026 Farel Road. It will be a 4.699-megawatt development and will cost $5.6 million to construct.

The developer is RIC Energy, LLC. They estimate 30-40 construction jobs and one part-time permanent position.

The county IDA served as lead agency for the State Environmental Quality Review. IDA Attorney Milian Tyler said investigation showed no adverse effects on the environment. Last month, company officials said the property is being placed on land that had been used to grow cabbage.

The approved PILOT agreement is for 25 years.

HANOVER

Delaware River Solar is the developer behind the 2.2-megawatt solar project on Angell Road in Hanover. It would be placed on 12.8 acres of land and is expected to cost $3.9 million to construct.

Kristine Morabito with the county IDA said the project received an area variance from Hanover.

It is expected that 25 to 27 construction jobs will be needed to build the development. No permanent positions will be required, although Morabito said they will keep the site maintained.

The county IDA served as lead agency for the State Environmental Quality Review. Tyler said investigation showed no adverse effects on the environment.

The approved PILOT agreement is for 25 years.

STOCKTON

Along with the three approved solar projects, the county IDA heard about four other proposed projects — two in Stockton and two in Portland.

In Stockton, the two projects are located on Barnes Road. Even though there are two projects, developer Seaboard Solar LLC said the two sit side by side and essentially is one development. Regulations required them to split the development into two. “We have to have them smaller than 5 megawatt,” he said.

The two solar projects combined are 9.35 megawatts in size — one which will be 4.375 and the other 4.975. The two projects will sit on just under 60 acres of land.

The Stockton Town Board approved the special use permits for the projects and has no further objections with the project.

Rosie Strandburg with the county IDA said combined the development will cost $7,669,000 to construct.

Matt Longman with Seaboard Solar was in attendance virtually. He said most of the site is not visible, except for a small portion, which will have pine trees planted in front.

Longman said they’re still developing their decommissioning plan with Wendel Engineering. Tentatively they’re looking at a $270,000 bond to decommission each project. He thinks the project could last 30 years, even though they’re applying for a 25 year PILOT agreement.

The IDA board approved a due diligence resolution, which begins the process for a future PILOT vote.

PORTLAND

Solar Liberty is proposing a 7.25-megawatt solar project that has been divided into two projects. One is 3.6 megawatts and the other is 3.92 megawatts.

One project will be on Fay Street and the other on Route 20. Strandburg said the town supervisor and council members are in favor of the project.

The two projects are expected to cost around $7 million for one and $5,426,000 for the other, or a total of $12,429,000.

Adam Rizzo with Solar Liberty attended the meeting virtually. He said they’ve been working on this project with Portland officials for about two years. Both have met the town’s zoning requirements. They also made sure the development is not going in prime soil used to grow grapes.

Rizzo said the two projects will have very little visual impact because of existing grapes and topography. They plan on revisiting it once the project is built to see what additional vegetation needs to be planted to improve screening. “It’s a little bit more unique in that we’re trying to get feedback from the town after the system has been installed and really evaluate the system,” he said.

Their decommissioning plan is for $262,000 after 25 years and $319,000 should the system be in place for 35 years. They’re still working with town officials to finalize the plan.

The company is seeking a 25 year PILOT agreement. The IDA board approved a due diligence resolution which begins the process.

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