SACKETS HARBOR — Residents in the area may see their electricity costs drop by as much as 10 percent if a solar developer goes through with plans for a community solar array on a portion of the former Augsbury Oil Co. site on outer Ambrose Street.
Mayor F. Eric Constance said a solar developer, whose name he declined to disclose, recently approached the Sackets Harbor Local Development Corp., which co-owns the 69-acre property with the village, and expressed interest in leasing up to 32 acres on the south side of Ambrose Street for its project.
The solar developer told officials that if the community solar array is erected, the village, the Sackets Harbor Central School District, local businesses and any residents in village and town of Hounsfield could subscribe to it to reduce their electricity costs by 10 percent, said Michael Hoagland, president of the local development corporation.
Details about the possible solar project and agreement between the developer, village and local development corporation have not been determined because the company must perform a feasibility study, which may not be completed for six months, Mr. Constance said.
All parties would also need to agree to a memorandum of understanding before the study could commence, although Mr. Constance said he believes an agreement could be reached within 10 days.
National Grid provides credits to the owners of community solar developers for the renewable energy they generate, which provides discounts to subscribers’ electricity costs. The company, Mr. Hoagland said, would need 25 acres to have the project built.
“It looks promising, and we’re willing to entertain it,” Mr. Hoagland said. “They talked about doing buffering around (the panels) and everything, so it wold not be visible.”
Solar development has been on the rise in the north country in recent years, with several projects built and proposed for development across the region.
The tentative solar facility recently pitched to the local development corporation is neither the first to come before local officials nor the first proposed for construction at the Augsbury site.
The Village Board of Trustees in 2015 considered signing onto a 1,620-panel, 486-kilowatt solar array to be funded and owned by private investors and to help reduce village electricity costs for its buildings. The board, however, voted against the deal, and the project never came to fruition. The board in 2016 also rejected the prospect of joining the Tri-County Energy Consortium, a group of schools and municipalities united to reduce their electricity costs using solar arrays, but Mr. Constance said officials would now like to join if there were any openings.
“The village has been looking to do community solar for some time,” he said. “This would not cost them. If anything, they would get lease money out of it.”
In 2016, after years of remediation, workers cleaned the petroleum contamination at the former Augsbury site, which housed a petroleum bulk storage for much of the 20th century until 1988. The local development corporation has been trying to market and sell the land for redevelopment.
Hi-Lite Airfield Services announced plans to relocate its corporate headquarters to the site in 2017, but the company, which was sold to new owners earlier this month, has since abandoned the project.
The local development corporation had received inquiries from two possible buyers about acquiring portions of the site, Mr. Hoagland said. A neighboring homeowner was interested in buying 500-square-feet of land, but Mr. Hoagland said the corporation declined the offer at the time. The corporation also received an inquiry from a possible buyer for land on the north side of Ambrose Street, which Mr. Hoagland said was in “preliminary” talks.
“One of these things, you know, we hope goes forward,” Mr. Hoagland said.