Developer plans solar projects

A Boston solar developer plans to build a couple of community solar projects in Jefferson County, two arrays south of Great Bend and another a few miles northwest of Depauville.

Omni Navitas wants to erect two 875 kilowatt arrays next to each other on County Route 47, Great Bend, and a 1.25 megawatt array on County Route 5, Clayton. The array near Depauville will include 5,380 tracking panels across about 10 acres, while the project near Great Bend will have 7,442 tracking panels across both arrays on almost 15 acres.

Peter McAuliffe, a project manager with the firm, said the company wanted to capitalize on state incentives that support community solar projects and found interest from local property owners in leasing their nonactive farm land. Developers of community solar projects sell energy directly to consumers, and their projects are designed to provide energy and financial benefits to multiple buyers through shared use.

“We want to do our part to continue to keep these pieces of property within these specific families,” he said. “It’s a suitable area for solar.”

Omni Navitas has more than 100 megawatts of solar projects in development, according to its website, with a portfolio that includes facilities on garage tops and car ports.

Renua Energy, Rhinebeck, is assisting the Boston developer with the projects, and has submitted site plans for them to local officials.

Plans for the projects also call for energy storage components, said Andrew R. Nevin, senior planner for the Jefferson County Planning Board. Sara S. Freda, the community development coordinator for county planning, said the project near Depauville has been set back about 800 feet from the road. The county planning board will review the projects today.

“Each of the two (Great Bend) projects have a transformer,” Mr. Nevin said. “Those can be a little bit noisy, so it’s good they’re sited away from houses. They’re not super loud, but there’s a hum associated with them.”

Solar energy development has been growing in the north country in recent years, with several projects proposed for construction.

At least two other projects have been proposed within the town of Clayton and its neighbor, Orleans: EDF Renewables’s 119-megawatt Tracy Solar Energy Center south of LaFargeville and OYA Solar Inc.’s 20-megawatt community solar project between Robinson Road in Orleans and Blanchard Road in Clayton.

Several municipalities have been drafting solar regulations amid the growth in solar development, including draft laws from the towns of Alexandria and Philadelphia that the county planning board will review today.

Mr. Nevin said the town of Champion adopted solar regulations years ago. Douglas E. Rogers, chairman of the Clayton Joint Town and Village Planning Board, said the board is still working on its regulations. The town’s attorney, Joseph W. Russell of Barclay Damon LLP, recommended that the town include the proposed law as an amendment to the town’s zoning ordinance as opposed to a separate law, Mr. Rogers said.

“I think because of what it entails, I think it’s the best way to go,” Mr. Rogers said.

The Clayton planning board will discuss Omni Navitas’ project in its town meeting on July 11.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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