Quicker project process sought

A NNY solar array. Watertown Daily Times

LOWVILLE — Only two north country renewable energy projects appear to be sticking with the Article 10 process, at least for now.

While as of March 17, the Article 10 queue on the state Department of Public Service public-facing document repository, Document Matter Master indicated three out of the six large-scale solar projects proposed for the tri-county area had applied to transfer to the new siting process, two others have notified Public Service they will be making the switch this year.

Known as 94-c indicating its section of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s executive law issued last year initiating the process, the regulations that now govern the approval process through which all new renewable energy projects larger than 25 megawatt hours must go went into effect on March 3.

Projects that were already working toward the approval of facility sites and “environmental compatibility” through the Article 10 process have the option to transfer to the new, expedited process.

Article 10, from the filing of the first required document — the Public Interaction Plan — to beginning construction, could take years to complete requiring a number of project-specific conditions be met even after the coveted Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need was issued.

The timeframe through 94-c is required to be no more than one year for approval and requires less public engagement.

Tracy Solar Energy Center, a 119-megawatt EDF Renewable project slated for the towns of Clayton and Orleans in Jefferson County, applied to make the switch on Jan. 25.

The company submitted their Public Involvement Plan through Article 10 in March 2019 but had not yet taken the next step by filing a Preliminary Scoping Statement indicating their potential interest in filing an Article 10 application.

AES, the new owner of all former NatGrid subsidiary Geronimo Energy projects, has transferred two of its solar projects in the north country for siting approval through 94-c and has started the move for a third.

New Bremen Solar, a 100-megawatt project to be located in the town of New Bremen in Lewis County, was shifted to the new process on Feb. 25. Their public engagement plan was submitted to Article 10 in February 2020 and implemented throughout the year.

Sugar Maple Solar, a 125-megawatt project that will straddle the town of Croghan in Lewis County and the town of Wilna in Jefferson County, also filed its public interaction plan last year and its transfer application on Feb. 25.

Riverside Solar is a 100-megawatt project intended for the towns of Lyme and Brownville. The Article 10 Public Participation Plan was submitted in December 2019 and the company has been holding public meetings this month, The company notified the state Department of Public Service Secretary to the Commission Michelle L. Phillips on Feb. 17 that they would be filing a transfer application for the 94-c process “in or about Spring 2021.”

The 120-megawatt Greens Corners Solar project owned by Boralex, Inc. is designed for the towns of Hounsfield and Watertown. While the project is still in the Article 10 Queue, the company indicated in December they are working on the application to transfer to 94-c.

The two remaining tri-county renewable projects in the Article 10 queue have not submitted a letter to Secretary Phillips with an intention to change to 94-c, the first step in transferring.

North Side Energy Center, owned by NextEra Energy Resources, is a 180-megawatt solar project that took the first step in the Article 10 process by filing a Public Involvement Plan in September 2017.

In February, the company indicated its intention to file an Article 10 application. The project is slated for the towns of Massena, Norfolk and Brasher.

Rich Road Solar in the town of Canton has been one of the larger renewable projects proposed in the tri-county area through Article 10 at 240 megawatts. Only the Public Involvement Plan was submitted by EDF Renewables Development, Inc. for this project in June 2019.

There are 59 renewable energy projects statewide listed in the official Article 10 queue. Of those projects, 13, most of which were wind projects, were issued environmental certificates and 15 have filed transfer applications for 94-c.

On the Office of Renewable Energy Siting that is responsible for the 94-c siting process, only three projects are listed as “under review,” none of which are in the north country.

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