MASSENA — The Massena Town Council has scheduled a public hearing for 5:30 p.m. Jan. 20 to amend its local law that regulates solar energy facilities in the town.
Supervisor Steven D. O’Shaughnessy said Town Attorney Eric Gustafson had recommended amending the local law to include provisions for Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreements for the installation of solar facilities.
A Payment In Lieu of Taxes is a payment made to compensate a government for some or all of the property tax revenue lost due to tax exempt ownership or use of real property.
Council members have adopted a resolution that addresses PILOT agreements. New York state Real Property Tax Law Section 487 allows municipalities to require PILOT agreements for the installation of solar energy facilities and/or systems.
“Real property that contains a solar energy, wind energy, farm waste energy, micro-hydroelectric energy, fuel cell electric generating, micro-combined heat and power generating equipment, or an electric energy storage system approved by the state Energy Research and Development Authority is exempt from taxation for a period of 15 years to the extent of any increase in assessed value due to the system,” the law reads.
Under the resolution passed by council members, they believe that PILOT agreements “are in the best interest of the residents of the town.”
Owners and/or developers of all solar energy facilities and/or systems will be required to enter into a contract with the town for Payment In Lieu of Taxes. The owner or developer must provide written notification to the town of its intent to construct a solar energy system. Town officials will notify the owner or developer within 60 days of its intent to require a PILOT agreement, which can be in effect for no more than 15 years.
Currently, 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 in the towns of Brasher, Norfolk and Massena. The actual solar facility area encompasses 961 acres. The majority of the solar panels will be located in the town of Brasher, with some also located in the towns of Massena and Norfolk.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Jan. 20 public hearing will be streamed live on the town’s Facebook page. They will also be streaming their organizational meeting, which is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday.