LAFARGEVILLE — The Toronto developer that wants to build four community solar arrays in the towns of Orleans and Clayton now hopes to erect a fifth one in the vicinity.
OYA Solar Inc. plans to install 19,162 panels across 40 acres off Robinson Road in Orleans for its latest 5-megawatt project, said Greg Rossetti, a principal of OYA. The array will be separate from the 20-megawatt project that includes four arrays, each one 5 megawatts, with a combined 88,000 panels spanning five properties, in Orleans and in Clayton.
The developer always wanted to construct five arrays for a combined 25-megawatts, but National Grid officials previously claimed the substation on Route 12 in Clayton that the developer wanted to connect its arrays to could not accommodate all them. Upon further examination a few months ago, however, the utility found the substation could accommodate another five-megawatt array, Mr. Rossetti said.
The developer hopes to begin installing panels for its larger project in the next month and a half, but construction for the latest array may not commence for another year and a half, Mr. Rossetti said.
“We ended up moving forward with that previously cancelled” array, Mr. Rossetti said. “It would have been nice if they all would have gone off at the same time, but unfortunately it didn’t happen that way.”
The developer already secured incentives from the NY-Sun’s Megawatt Block subsidy program for the other four arrays but will need to apply again for the fifth array.
Mr. Rossetti said the company must also establish another interconnection agreement with National Grid for its latest project. The Orleans Town Planning Board approved the site plan for the array Tuesday.
“We’re trying to accelerate and push as hard as we can,” Mr. Rossetti said.
The developer has established an agreement with NextEra Energy Inc., Juno Beach, Fla., to eventually take ownership of the arrays. Selling projects to investors like NextEra is essential to OYA’s business model.
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. Subscribers to community solar projects are expected to receive savings because the arrays earn cost-saving credits from generating electricity.
OYA’s four-array project could accommodate an estimated 4,300 users, based on an estimated 10,000 kilowatt hour electricity usage per year per home. Its fifth array could serve about 1,000 users.
While it pursues all necessary approvals and incentives for its latest project, OYA has also been in negotiations with the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency and affected taxing jurisdictions for a prospective payment-in-lieu-of-tax agreement for its 20-megawatt project.
Orleans was previously left out of PILOT discussions because the agency contented that the town had no property tax, but rather a special district tax for highway department expenditures, which it cannot abate.
The town’s attorney, James A. Burrows of Conboy, McKay, Bachman and Kendall LLP, said upon further review, the JCIDA concurred with the town in that its tax, which is imposed on town property owners at a rate of 83 cents per $1,000, was a regular property tax, giving it greater leverage in PILOT negotiations. A mutual understanding was reached Friday in a meeting with the agency and other taxing jurisdictions.
Donald C. Alexander, CEO of the JCIDA’s sister agency, the Jefferson County Local Development Corp., did not return requests for comment.
“Apparently, it was a misunderstanding by the JCIDA,” Mr. Burrows said. “The town of Orleans is pleased the IDA revisited the topic and has come to the correct decision.”