Last chance for solar here


By Patsy Nicosia

What’s expected to be the last chance for public comment on the 50-megawatt East Point Energy solar project is on the state Siting Board’s calendar for next Thursday, October 15.
The hearings will be held virtually at 1pm and again at 6pm.
Pre-registration for those wishing to comment is required; those who only want to listen don’t have to register. (See related story.).
Meanwhile, Schoharie County’s Energy Committee is keeping its eye on project developers NextEra Energy, based in Juno Beach, Florida.
Blenheim Supervisor Don Airey is outraged by a Bloomberg News report that NextEra “recently made an unsuccessful bid to take over power giant Duke Energy Corp. in what could have been the largest utility deal in American history, according to people familiar with the matter.”
The article called NextEra “the world’s largest utility owner by market value.”
“And they won’t agree to pay a reasonable PILOT of full taxation to Schoharie County,” Mr. Airey said.
Saturday, Mr. Airey emailed Energy Committee members details on a project proposed by another renewable energy company, Invenergy, that would build 166 wind turbines on 30,000 acres leased over three counties in Western New York as the Alle-Catt Wind Farm.
“Nothing else is going to happen on those 30,000 acres,” he said. “And I feel terrible about the unfortunate folks [nearby]. I suspect that many will be forced to move and take a tremendous loss on their real estate values.”
According to a September 30 article in the (Batavia) Daily News, “The New York Siting Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment denied petitions for a rehearing [on Alle-Catt] after determining the wind farm met or exceeded all siting requirements.”
Mr. Airey is particularly angered by the fact that the state Siting Board, which is tasked with deciding whether to permit all projects of this size, including the one proposed in the Town of Sharon, under Article 10, rejected all petitions by local municipalities.
“This is what they will do on all renewables projects,” he said, again stressing the county isn’t opposed to solar, but just wants a fair deal.
NextEra hasn’t yet applied for a PILOT--payment in lieu of taxes--and it’s unlikely there would be enough time now to go through the process before the Siting Board rules on the application by the end of January 2021 if not sooner.
The PILOT for the Alle-Catt project will total $7 million.
That sounds like a lot, Mr. Airey said, but the capital investment on the project is about $450 million.
“If this is the renewables vision of Governor Cuomo, upstate New York will soon be one huge energy park,” Mr. Airey wrote, pointing to “great strides” being made “in nuclear fusion energy production with no radiation, no radioactive nuclear waste, and tremendous, seamless energy production output.”
According to the (Batavia) Daily News, once operational, the wind farm will pay more than $2.7 million annually in annual lease payments to area landowners over the life of the project.
Many of the concerns voiced against Alle-Catt mirror those here and include its impact on the local community--in this case, Amish.