Brasher board gets update on solar project

BRASHER FALLS — Plans to site a solar farm in the towns of Brasher, Norfolk and Massena are moving forward, and the Brasher Town Board received the latest update during its meeting on Monday.

Steve Le Fevre from Barton & Loguidice said the project proposed by North Side Energy Center, LLC has been deemed compliant, and $180,000 in “intervenor funds” are available to three towns and St. Lawrence County.

Mr. Le Fevre is providing technical review services to the town as they review the proposed project. Barton & Loguidice is a full-service consulting firm that provides services in practice areas that include engineering, environmental science, planning and landscape architecture.

“Intervenor” refers to a party, other than the applicant or the staff of the reviewing public agency, that joins a case or proceeding as a third party for the protection of an interest. Article 10 applicants are required at several stages to provide funds to be used to defray certain expenses incurred by municipal and local parties when participating in an Article 10 proceeding.

“Brasher, Massena, Norfolk and St. Lawrence County applied for intervenor funding. There was $180,000 available intervenor funding. We collectively applied for $175,000,” Mr. Le Fevre said.

He said Brasher’s share of the funding will be $27,500.

North Side Energy Center officials are still going through the state’s Article 10 process. Article 10 provides for the siting review of new and repowered or modified major electric generating facilities in New York state by the Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment (Siting Board) in a unified proceeding instead of requiring a developer or owner of such a facility to apply for numerous state and local permits.

Once the project is deemed compliant, the administrative law judges assigned to the proceeding issues a notice that intervenor funds will be available for eligible parties participating in the application phase. Mr. Le Fevre said the project was deemed compliant on Friday.

He suggested that, with the project continuing to move forward, the town’s planning board and community members should begin compiling questions and concerns that can be addressed as part of the process.

“Any questions they can think of,” he said.

Mr. Le Fevre said still to come is a public statement hearing.

“Hopefully it will be in person and it will be at a location where the administrative law judge will actually be in person. The public is invited” to speak for or against the project or have questions answered, he said. “All that information is going to go on the record.”

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. The project area is 2,200 acres, but the actual solar facility area encompasses 961 acres. 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.

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