Solar plan in early stages

File photoHecate Energy, LLC, Development Director Gabriel Wapner at a Coxsackie Town Board meeting in May 2018.

COPAKE — Hecate Energy announced Monday a proposed 700-acre installation of solar panels on Routes 23 and 7 in the hamlet of Craryville.

The completed project would generate approximately 110,000 MWh of energy annually, which is enough to power 15,000 homes, according to a statement from Hecate Energy.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Green New Deal on Jan. 15, 2019. The law set a deadline for New York State to be powered exclusively by renewable energy by 2040. With the most aggressive timeline in the country, solar and wind farms are being constructed throughout the state.

The proposed project, named Shepherd’s Run Solar, will connect to the existing Craryville substation on Route 23, and the solar electricity will flow to the nearest local points of demand.

In August 2011, Article 10 of the Public Service law was created when Cuomo signed into law Chapter 388 of the Laws of 2011. This created the Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment. The board provides siting review of new and repowered or modified major electric generating facilities in New York State.

In addition to five state officials, two members local to the project are selected to the committee. Candidates for the two ad-hoc positions on the Siting Board will be nominated by local government, but Copake Town Supervisor Jeanne Mettler said the Town Board will have to review the relevant laws further before selecting nominees.

“We are just in the very earliest stages of this new application, but it is important that the public be aware of this process at every step of the way,” Mettler said.

When a company such as Hecate Energy proposes a major renewable energy project, it is brought to the Siting Board to undergo a six-step process before becoming a certified project.

Article 10 defines a major electric generating facility as one that produces 25 megawatts or more and requires environmental and public health impact analyses as part of the process, as well as studies measuring electric system benefits, public safety and consideration for local laws.

“The Town of Copake adopted a Solar Energy Law in 2017,” Mettler said. “In that law, the maximum acreage allowed for any utility-scale solar energy system was 10 acres. This project would greatly exceed that.”

According to a Hecate Energy press release, the 700-acre proposed site will have a smaller footprint, according to Hecate. The project will create over 200 local construction jobs for the duration of the 9 to 12-month build.

The law also requires a utility security plan reviewed by Homeland Security, the company said. Hecate has proposed funding training for local emergency response crews that will interact with the site during construction and after completion.

Hecate Project Developer Alex Campbell said the completed project will generate $5 million to $7 million in new revenue for local government.

“That will be through tax payments that we provide to the schools, fire department, libraries and the local county government,” Campbell said. “It’s basically our property-tax payment.”

The noncontiguous land used for the project will be leased from nearby landowners who are supportive of the project, Campbell said. After the project finishes its useful life, a decommissioning plan will be activated and the land will go back to the landowners, likely in better form after decades of time to recharge, Campbell added.

Hecate Energy’s Public Involvement Program, which was submitted to the Siting Board on Jan. 31 provides for public comment. The PIP lays out how the company will communicate with local government and residents throughout the process. The Copake Town Board will provide further information when it is available. At this time, no public hearings are scheduled on the project.

“We are very excited about Hecate’s Shepard’s Run Solar facility announcement,” said Anne Reynolds, executive director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York. “We need more of these large-scale, high-quality projects like this one if we hope to come close to the renewable energy goals established to address global climate change.”

Fifty-seven projects are in the Active Article 10 Queue across New York State. Hecate Energy, headquartered in Chicago, was founded in 2012, and is also working on a proposed facility in southern Albany County called Coeymans Solar and the proposed Greene County Solar in the town of Coxsackie.

Those interested can find more information on the project at http://www.shepherdsrunsolar.com/ and more information about Article 10 and the Siting Board at http://www3.dps.ny.gov/W/PSCWeb.nsf/All/1392EC6DD904BBC285257F4E005BE810?OpenDocument.

Abby Hoover is a reporter at the Register-Star. Contact her at ahoover@registerstar.com or (518) 828-1616 ext. 2500.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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