The Town of Sharon isn’t the only place being considered for a large-scale commercial solar project.
Solar developer Cypress Creek Renewals is looking at a 20 megawatt, 140-acre project just a few miles away on Brown Road in the Towns of Carlisle and Seward.
Like the NextEra Energy East Point Center project, the Rock District solar project is among those successfully answering a request for proposals from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority awarded in 2017.
However, unlike the Sharon project, the one in Carlisle and Seward is subject to local review and approval.
Cyress Creek has also received NYSERDA funding for a second project in the Town of Schoharie—the Sunny Knoll solar project—but because Schoharie is still working on its solar law, Cypress Creek Associate Developer Marisa Scavo said that’s “still in the very, very early stages of development.”
Cypress Creek reps met in August with members of the Carlisle and Seward Town and Planning Boards for what Art Graulich, chairman of the Carlisle Planning Board, said was their first real look at the plans.
“We won’t try to stop it as long as they follow our solar law,” Mr. Graulich said—though he said developers are already proposing a 100-foot setback when the town’s solar law requires 200 feet.
Changing that would require a variance, he said.
Ms. Scavo said because the project crosses town lines, both Carlisle and Seward will have to approve it for it to move forward.
Carlisle has a solar law that requires site plan review and a special use permit--but no zoning; Seward has zoning, but no solar law.
Ms. Scavo said her company expects to submit a formal application to the two towns in January or February and fully expects the review process to take about a year.
If Rock Creek solar wins approval, construction would begin in early 2020, she said, and would take about four to six months.
Like the Sharon project, this one would hook into existing National Grid 60 KV lines transmission lines, but the exact route is unsure.
It would require a $27 million investment with revenue coming from sales of electricity and NYSERDA tax credits, Ms. Scavo said.
It would also make payments in lieu of taxes and developers have been in discussion with Schoharie County Treasurer Bill Cherry, who’s negotiating the latest Sharon PILOT.
Cypress Creek has already met with SUNY Cobleskill reps, Ms. Scavo said, on a possible workforce development project, but one of the things that sets the company apart is its commitment to creating habitat for pollinators—bees, butterflies and other insects—alongside the solar panels by planting native wildflowers.
It’s also begin exploring the possibility of adding beehive on its sites.
Both would enhance agriculture, she said, and the hives might even create a local product that could be sold locally; no pesticides or herbicides will be used.
Ms. Scavo said the project is expected to create the equivalent of 7-8 fulltime jobs in ground and equipment maintenance and the project has an anticipated lifespan of 40 years.
Cypress Creek has a total of 24 projects approved in New York State.
Mr. Graulich said he has concerns over the impact of so many solar projects and their visual impact and he doesn’t like the fact that the Brown Road project would be built on some of the best farmland in Carlisle.
But at the same time, as a dairy farmer himself, he doesn’t want to stop farmers from profiting off the land they’ve invested their life and livelihood in.
Ms. Scavo said Cypress Creek plans to put up a website for the project.
Until then, anyone with questions can call her at (213) 357-5417 or email her at Scavo@ccrenew.com.