Brasher residents receive solar project updates

A full house was on hand at the latest Brasher Town Board meeting to hear an update on the proposed solar project for the towns of Brasher, Norfolk and Massena. Meeting video screenshot

BRASHER FALLS — A full house was on hand at the recent Brasher Town Board meeting to receive an update on a proposed solar farm in the towns of Brasher, Norfolk and Massena.

NextEra Energy Resources, through its subsidiary, North Star Energy Center, is proposing to develop, build, own and operate a solar facility that will produce 180 megawatts of power. It would have a construction period of about 12 to 14 months, starting in late 2022 and into 2023.

The 180-megawatt solar energy center will be located on land leased or purchased from private property owners in the towns of Brasher, Norfolk and Massena. Project components include commercial-scale solar arrays; access roads; buried, and possibly overhead, electric collection lines; a project collection substation; and electrical interconnection facilities.

The bulk of the project — 90% — will be located in Brasher.

Kris Scornavacca, representing NextEra Energy Resources LLC, provided the audience with an overview of the project and its status.

He said the company held two virtual open houses in December last year to provide information about the project and explain potential benefits to the community. The virtual open house format was necessary because of COVID-19 restrictions.

In January, North Side Energy Center provided notice that in February it intended to file its application with the state Siting Board for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need authorizing construction and operation of the project.

On July 9, the Article 10 application filed by North Side Energy Center was determined to comply with the filing requirements of Public Service Law.

Most recently, a virtual public statement hearing was held to take comments regarding the proposed solar project. Five people spoke during the session, all of them in favor of the project.

Mr. Scornavacca said that, although the project area is 2,200 acres, the actual solar facility area encompasses 961 acres. The company has partnered with local landowners to have access to the project area, but the land will still belong to the landowners.

“It doesn’t mean we’ll use all the land that’s available to us,” he said.

He said an anticipated 200-plus full-time jobs will be created during construction, from equipment operators to laborers to truck drivers. Once construction is complete, there would be two to three permanent positions that are typically high tech in nature. Outside of permanent employment during the operational phase, there would be requirements for additional services and supplies, such as mowing vegetation and managing snow.

Mr. Scornavacca said that once the project is constructed, taxes would benefit the local communities, school district and county. They are seeking a 15-year Payment In Lieu of Taxes agreement with the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency. He said the majority of the compensation would be to the town of Brasher since most of the project is located there.

Among the concerns from the audience was the impact the solar farm would have on views from homes. He said each impacted area has been studied and, where necessary, vegetative screening in the form of native or indigenous evergreen trees, pollinator-friendly deciduous shrubs and small ornamental tree species will be provided. Those will be required to reach an adequate height and width to provide the appropriate and required visual screening.

“We’re going to plant throughout the project area based on the physical assessment — that does not mean that everybody that’s in the project area will have a row of trees down the street or where they live,” Mr. Scornavacca said.

Another concern was the impact on wildlife.

As part of its development process, NextEra Energy Resources conducts thorough wildlife studies to make sure each site complies with all applicable state and federal environmental regulations. Mr. Scornavacca said the company is working with the state Department of Environmental Conservation to address the issue.

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(2) comments

SESZOO

Money in lieu of taxes aside , will any of this power generated go to local residents of our area and help out with our national Grid Bills . Or is the power all going out of area .. Didn't see that in the story .

HotelMike

Without massive subsidies it’s lights out for solar energy. Do people know how many days of little or no sun days occur in NNY?

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