May 23, 2024

politics of law

Politics and Law

Siting Board OKs $50M Hecate solar project | Greene County

5 min read

COXSACKIE — The condition Siting Board on Tuesday accredited the application from Hecate Vitality Greene for a 365-acre, $50 million photo voltaic electricity challenge in the city.

The undertaking, slated for land now applied for farming, would deliver up to 50 megawatts of power.

Beneath public services law, the Siting Board reviewed the company’s application for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and General public Need to have.

Administrative Legislation Judge James Costello of the New York condition Department of Public Support presided above the project’s overview.

“Hecate Greene proposes to assemble and operate a industrial-scale solar run electric creating facility in the city of Coxsackie,” Costello mentioned Tuesday. “The facility will be created on 365 acres of land and will create up to 50 megawatts of electrical power.”

In excess of 300 general public comments were being submitted for the duration of the critique system, the greater part of them damaging, Costello said.

“Most of the remarks oppose the task focusing on environmental, wellbeing and financial fears, as perfectly as impacts to the character of the neighborhood,” Costello said. “Comments in assist of the task cite the economic gains to the nearby community as effectively as wide guidance of renewable power to counter the harms posed by world wide warming.”

A person of the difficulties elevated by city officers throughout the evaluate procedure was the project’s affect on the viewshed. Hecate Greene agreed to enhance the volume of screening vegetation to block sights of the web-site, Costello mentioned.

Changes had been also made to the structure with regard to wetlands, and the Office of Environmental Conservation affirmed that “the proposed substitute layout avoids or minimizes the facility’s possible wetlands effects to the utmost extent practicable,” Costello stated.

The overview panel concluded the task complied with condition and community health and fitness and security rules, and that environmental problems had been “avoided, minimized or mitigated” as considerably as achievable, together with the effects on grassland fowl species and agricultural resources, Costello reported.

The entire website lies within the wintering habitat of the shorter-eared owl and the northern harrier, both of those of which are mentioned beneath the state Endangered Species Act, he said.

Point out approval of the project is contingent on a number of criteria the developer ought to fulfill, including use of an on-website environmental watch to carry out day-to-day surveys to decide how endangered birds are impacted by the development system, and use of a 500-foot buffer all over chicken roosts of endangered species.

“Hecate Greene is also needed to prepare a ultimate web conservation profit prepare that demands, among other things, conservation and administration of grassland habitat spots adjacent to the facility web-site for the lifetime of the task,” he mentioned.

There ended up also considerations submitted with the point out by the business Saving Greene about the project’s effect on agricultural sources, but the review panel identified the project efficiently minimized, mitigated or prevented individuals difficulties, Costello said.

“Saving Greene argues that the loss of farmland, especially highly effective prime farmland through the lifetime of the task, will outcome in impacts that have not been adequately resolved,” Costello claimed.

The review panel decided all those issues were being unfounded and that any extended-phrase impacts would be nominal immediately after the project is decommissioned.

In its software, Hecate Greene requested a waiver of the town’s local rules prohibiting utility-scale photo voltaic tasks outdoors professional and industrial zones.

“The examiners encouraged that the Siting Board waive those nearby legal guidelines as the Siting Board did formerly in approving the Flint Mine Photo voltaic Venture situated in the cities of Coxsackie and Athens,” Costello stated.

The Flint Mine Solar Project underwent a very similar evaluate and was accredited by the Siting Board on Aug. 5.

Saving Greene argued the state should really not waive the community legal guidelines to maintain the rural character of the local community, he reported.

The state will have to harmony the demands of the area neighborhood with the state’s intention of expanding renewable electricity to combat local climate modify impacts, Costello countered, incorporating the town legislation is “unnecessarily burdensome.”

The key concerns of opponents to the assignments — visible, environmental and agricultural impacts — have been effectively minimized or mitigated, the panel decided.

Costello explained the advisory panel advised the Siting Board approve the company’s application.

Advert hoc member Daniel Kohler, the only member to vote no on the software, questioned why the review panel encouraged a area town law regulating glare from the project be waived.

“The Siting Board is a one-prevent procuring entity — it has to use all point out and nearby legislation. Any nearby or state law considered unreasonably burdensome, it can waive. That is the common,” Siting Board counsel Robert Rosenthal reported, adding the city legislation would be not possible to comply with.

“If a regulation is not doable to fulfill, it is by definition unreasonably burdensome,” Rosenthal reported.

Kohler also questioned about issues about the cumulative influence of the undertaking on the bordering community.

“The town of Coxsackie indicated that about 9% of the land in Coxsackie will be occupied by two utility-scale solar services — Flint Mine and Hecate Greene,” Kohler reported. “The regulation calls for that every single undertaking be seemed at as an unique challenge, as a standalone project. Appropriate now it is at 9% let us say that in a yr it is 20%. Is there any issue where you can say, as an examiner, that even even though every challenge separately is putting apart ample land for the birds and maintains agricultural land, is there any place where by you say all the things complies with Post 10, but we have adjusted the character of Coxsackie?”

At some place, the Siting Board could gauge cumulative impact, but he could not identify at what issue that would become a issue, Rosenthal claimed.

“It is surely concerning to staff members that facilities take over a town — it is not something we would choose lightly and ignore,” Rosenthal said.

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