CANTON — Plans to build the first large-scale solar project in the town of Canton are moving forward, but it may take at least three years for it to be up and running.
EDF Renewables has started the permitting process to develop a 240 megawatt project with 750,000 solar panels near Rich Road off Route 11 in the town of Canton.
Jack B. Honor, the company’s development manager, explained the project during a presentation Wednesday night to the Canton Town Board.
He said lease agreements have been signed with two land owners Rich Road Solar Energy Project, representing about 1,500 acres with approximately 800 to 900 acres feasible for construction. Negotiations are ongoing with a few other landowners to provide another 800 acres.
“We look for clear, flat land close to transmission lines,“ Mr. Honor said. “The New York Power Authority transmission line is planned to be upgraded in 2023 so we are trying to coordinate our project with that.”
Deputy Town Supervisor Robert Washo said the proposal represents one of the largest solar projects in the state.
“The scale is huge. This goes from Miner Street all the way to the Indian Creek Nature Center,” he said.
He predicted that more solar projects may be forthcoming because 13.1 miles of the transmission line goes through Canton.
“I have no knowledge of this, but the potential is certainly there,” Mr. Washo said.
Mr. Honor said the power generated by the solar array would be sold into the power grid operated by the New York Independent Service Operator. That agency sells power wholesale to utility companies and factories.
EDF Renewables has developed, or is in the process of developing, other projects in the north country, but the Canton project would be the company’s first in St. Lawrence County.
EDF plans to develop a 119 megawatt project south of Lafargeville that calls for installing 425,000 solar panels.
Earlier this year, the village started operating a new solar array project on Route 11 that is supplying energy for all municipal facilities including the Canton Recreational Pavilion.
The company is seeking to negotiate a $600,000 a year Payment in Lieu of Tax Agreement with the town, plus pay property taxes on a portion of the project site, according Mr. Honors presentation.
Besides generating tax revenue for both the town and St. Lawrence County, he said the project would also provide good-paying construction jobs.
“The whole north country needs every opportunity for good-paying construction jobs,” Mr. Honor said.
Town Supervisor Mary Ann Ashley said the project is positive news for the town.
“They’re moving forward. They already have some leases signed,” Ms. Ashley said. “This is an exciting project and an exciting time for solar.”
She credited the village for making its solar project a reality.
“That to me was a huge success. That processed started five years ago. Kudos to the village for seeing that through to fruition,” Ms. Ashley said.
The new solar law adopted by the town board requires that developers negotiate a “community benefit” with municipal officials.
Before the law was adopted the town put a moratorium on solar projects so that a law would be on the books regulating their development.