SOS Industrial Solar Concerns
Save Ontario Shores represents individuals in the towns of Somerset and Yates who share a desire to promote and preserve the rural character of these towns. We question the benefit of large scale industrial solar projects, believing them to be counter to the Comprehensive Plans and Local Waterfront Revitalization Plans of both towns. Local communities must maintain the authority to make decisions regarding any such installation as they will impact the future of the area, local families, health, environment, future economic development and properties. Western New York is now faced with the possibility of massive solar and battery storage projects. The 2,000-acre Ridgeview Solar project in the neighboring towns of Hartland and Newfane and the 900-acre Bear Ridge Solar project in the town of Cambria are two projects which have been proposed for Niagara County. An 1,800-acre project has been proposed by Community Energy in the towns of Barre and Shelby in Orleans County. Others have been proposed and more will soon follow.
Reasons Why Save Ontario Shores is concerned about Industrial Solar Installations:
Change in Rural Character
Harm to Wildlife and Habitat Degradation
Destruction of Farmland
Recycling of Solar Panels
Federal, State, and Local Subsidies
Orleans Hub January 31, 2023
Murray proposes ordinance with 4 tiers for solar projects
The Town of Murray’s proposed solar law includes four tiers for projects rather than 2 like most of the other towns. Tier 1 (Capacity up to 25 kW), permitted in all zoning districts and exempt from site plan review. Tier 2 (Capacity up to 1 megawatt), permitted in all zoning districts as accessory structures and subject to site plan review. Tier 3 (Capacity up to 5 megawatts and up to 40 acres in size), issuance of special use permit and site plan review, and permitted in residential/agricultural and industrial zones. Tier 4 (projects not included in tiers 1, 2 or 3), issuance of special use permit and site plan review, and permitted in residential/agricultural and industrial zones; eligible for solar systems PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) and will require a host community agreement fee. The County Planning Board recommending Murray approve the proposed regulations.
RealClear Energy January 12, 2023
Solar Energy Rejections Soared in 2022
Nearly 80 rural governments either banned or restricted solar energy projects last year, part of the ongoing backlash in rural America against the encroachment of large wind and solar projects. Instead of reporting the story about the fight over wind and solar projects honestly legacy media outlets are using a false narrative that implies rural residents are simply hayseeds who are being deluded by “misinformation” provided by nefarious (but unnamed) actors. Here’s the truth: rural communities are blocking wind and solar projects because they are concerned about their neighborhoods, viewsheds, property values and the health impacts that noise pollution from big turbines generate.
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal February 22, 2023
Solar company loses acreage in Cambria
An administrative law judge has ruled that Cypress Creek Renewables, the company behind the Bear Ridge Solar project, cannot install solar arrays on acreage previously zoned Planned Unit Development where solar energy generation is excluded as a permitted use. Although the Town of Cambria did not get party status and with it, an adjudication hearing on a variety of issues raised, Favreau’s ruling on the PUD issue upholds the concept of Home Rule and is “a substantial victory for the town,” the town’s special attorney, Dennis Vacco said. The ruling did go against the town’s position on issues including glare from solar panels, decommissioning, use of prime farmland and limiting solar facilities siting to certain land zones only. The Town of Cambria and Cypress Creek Renewables are both appealing this ruling.
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal December 10, 2023
Final public hearings for Cambria solar project
Cambria Opposition to Industrial Solar is encouraging people to attend the public hearings regarding the Bear Ridge Solar Project by Cypress Creek Renewables. ORES issued a draft permit for the project overriding some of Cambria and Pendleton solar laws calling them “unreasonably burdensome. The town’s solar law stipulated solar projects of this size should be put on industrial property and not eat up the available agriculture property prized by its residents. Another issue at stake is “home rule,” the right of local government to govern what happens within its borders. There are also concerns about stormwater spilling off the land where solar panels are to be installed into Bull Creek.
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal August 2, 2022
Bear Ridge Solar application deemed ‘complete’
Office of Renewable Energy Siting deemed Cypress Creek Renewables’ application for a permit on a 100-megawatt project in Cambria and Pendleton to be “complete.” and has 60 days to release a draft siting permit for public comment. Just as ORES released its determination, an appeal was filed with the 3rd Department of the Appellate Division by several towns and incorporated entities including Cambria Opposition to Industrial Solar, Inc. (COIS), American Bird Conservancy and the towns of Farmersville, Malone, Somerset and Yates. Their lawsuit against ORES, challenging its uniform standards and regulations, was dismissed in state Supreme Court earlier this year.
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal July 14, 2022
Independent consultant asked to weigh in on Hartland solar project
In June, the Town of Hartland sent out a mailing to its residents regarding the Ridge View Solar Project, announced in 2019. Hartland Supervisor, Ross Annable, hired BE3corp, an engineering firm with a background in environmental consultation as an “independent” to study the pros and cons of the project. In mailing BE3corp responded to comments in a memorandum form regarding several issues, including hunting, the size of the project, zoning changes, battery storage systems and how much money EDF stands to make in this project, as well as how much taxing entities like the town stood to gain. The mailing also included a letter from the Hartland Town Board and a survey.
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal June 22, 2022
Newfane reaches deal on solar projects
The town board approved host community agreements with Omni Navitas Holdings LLC planning two solar power generation projects in the town, which include the 5 megawatt project of Patrick Danebrock of Drake Settlement Road, and the three 5 megawatt projects of Nouryon Chemicals LLC of Lockport-Olcott Road. The agreements require that Omni pay the sum of $3,500 per megawatt of generated power each year for each solar project. The Dannebrock solar energy project had its area variance approved by the town’s zoning board due to the towns solar energy law forbidding the construction of solar projects on parcels of land that have at least 50% Prime Farmland.
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal June 20, 2022
State solar ruling felt in Cambria, Pendleton
In a ruling issued on June 13, administrative law judges ruled that the Towns of Rush and Caledonia, and RUSH (Residents United to Save Our Hometown) did not merit party status or bring any kind of substantiated issues in its fight against the Horseshoe Solar Energy Solar Project. The Towns of Cambria and Pendleton and COIS (Cambria Opposes Industrial Solar) are in a similar situation. Ed Saleh, president of COIS, and was outraged by the move by the state agency, and hopes to have more substantial claims locally.
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal April 1, 2022
Ridge View Solar developer still at work behind the scenes
Development of Ridge View Solar Center, a proposed 350 megawatt generation facility scattered over 2,000-plus acres in Hartland, is still in its early phases. Before it can even begin, there are several permits and studies that the company must obtain including wetlands and archeological impact studies. A local grassroots group Preserve Our Rural Communities (PORC) sprouted quickly to oppose the project. EDF Renewables started its bid for state approval to operate a utility under the Article 10 process but has decided to transition to Article 94 which critics view as more sympathetic to energy developers than host communities. They hope to work with the community and find a compromise between state and local standards.
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal March 29, 2022
Bear Ridge Solar takes another step
Cypress Creek Renewables, the company behind the proposed Bear Ridge Solar Project in the Towns of Cambria and Pendleton, has submitted its response to the Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES) Notice of Incomplete Application. The Towns of Cambria and Pendleton have been advocating to stop the project, along with the group Cambria Opposition against Industrial Solar (COIS). All three entities have applied for and received intervenor funds from the state to put place towards their cause.
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal February 14, 2022
Solar company’s application incomplete for now
The Pendelton/Cambria Bear Ridge Solar Project application took a hit after the Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES) turned it back to Cypress Creek Renewables as incomplete in late January. Cambria Opposition to Industrial Solar (COIS) group has received $15,000 in local agency funds from ORES and plans to use those funds to fight the 900-acre, 100-Megawatt solar energy facility. An additional $85,000 in local agency funds were awarded to the Towns of Cambria and Pendleton with $51,000 and $34,000 respectively, according to Cambria Supervisor Wright Ellis and Pendleton Supervisor Joel Maerten. Ellis said he received a letter regarding the application’s status from ORES and that a lot of the items cited were areas allies including COIS and Pendleton would’ve objected even if the siting agency had not intervened.
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal February 1, 2022
Solar projects on hold another six months in Town of Lockport
This past year, the town saw a large public outcry regarding a solar project along Slayton Settlement Road. In the end, the project was OK’d on the grounds that the landowner and solar company had gone through and met all requirements that the local solar law asked for. However, officials also decided to enact a pause that would eliminate any similar project from moving forward for six months starting in July. “Right now, we’re still on a fact gathering mission on a lot of what’s going on related to these solar laws,” Councilmen Paul Siejack said. “I think we need to look at our screening. I think it needs to be tightened up. Some setback issues I think need to be tightened up. Also, the battery energy storage system needs to be addressed, because our current law is very vague.
Orleans Hub December 27, 2021
Orleans asks state to develop recycling regulations for solar panels
The Orleans County Legislature last week passed a resolution that stated there is a rise in the use of solar panels, which has led to an accumulation of waste at the end of the life of the panels. The solar panels contain recyclable aluminum, glass and plastic, as well as photovoltaic cells, which contain various valuable materials and rare metals, legislators said. “Proper recycling of the solar panels will ensure that these materials and metals are able to be reused, but also ensures that the panels do not prematurely enter the waste stream where they can have potential negative environmental effects,” county legislators stated in their resolution. Legislators are urging the state to develop “a convenient, safe and environmentally sound system for the recycling of photovoltaic modules, the minimization of hazard waste, and the recovery of commercially valuable materials.”
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal December 20, 2021
Bear Ridge Solar Project advances
Cypress Creek Renewables submitted its application for state approval of the proposed Bear Ridge Solar Project in the towns of Cambria and Pendleton on Dec 2nd. The project, a 100-megawatt utility spread over 900 acres, has met with stiff opposition locally by residents. Cambria Opposition to Industrial Solar, hired attorneys to examine the application who are honing in on the portions related to chemicals leaking from solar panels, habitat for raptors and fire protection training for local fire companies, according to activist Ed Saleh. COIS is also appealing a lawsuit brought by municipalities from across the state and other activist groups together to claim ORES committed a procedural error when it made final the siting regulations for solar and wind energy projects.
The Washington Post Sept 22, 2021
Solar energy’s luster dims in rural southern Ohio
A public meeting in Highland County on the subject in May turned heated. One area resident who is also a clerk for the county commission seemed to speak for many when she said, “I think that citizens with skin in the game should have the authority to approve or disapprove these projects at a local level and not some panel of individuals in Columbus.” Similar opposition spread in rural areas in Ohio and elsewhere across the nation. Under pressure over the summer, the Ohio legislature passed a bill, signed by Gov. Mike DeWine (R), empowering local elected officials to reject, ban or restrict solar and wind projects.
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal August 17, 2021
Maverick Farms to host solar array
The Slayton Settlement Project’s special permit was approved by the Town of Lockport Planning Board Tuesday night for the 45-acre solar array located on Karl Kowalski’s Maverick Farms property. Renewable Properties offered the mitigations that New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets was asking for.
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal July 6, 2021
Planning board balks at solar farm’s next step
Barbara Outten of Protect Our Rural Communities (PORC) noted that the proceedings showed the project was not in order – a declaration of negative SEQR, a lack of or little environmental impact, was withheld for the time being because of a point on the impact of sheep grazing amongst the solar panels. Also the town has to responded to information requested by the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets (AG & Markets). The Slayton Settlement solar farm proposal met with stiff opposition from residents.
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal June 11, 2021
Solar panels eyed for closed Somerset Power Station
Applied Energy Services (AES) has proposed the Somerset Solar Project, a 140- to 200-megawatt solar energy farm of 1,000-acres on and around the former Somerset Coal Power Station. The property is currently owned by Somerset Operating Company and another company called Beowulf Energy which AES intends to lease land from in order to complete the project. An open house was held June 14, 2021 by AES to assess the level of support in the community.
Orleans Hub May 28, 2021
4 solar projects in Orleans get OK from Planning Board
The Orleans County Planning Board on Thursday voted in favor of four solar projects in county with two in Albion, one in Kendall and one in Carlton. The Planning Board recommended each town accept the site plans and issue permits for the projects. The projects are all on land that is currently being farmed.
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal May 25, 2021
Solar farms sought for industrial-zoned site in Newfane
Three 5-megawatt solar farms eyed for industrial-zoned property owned by Nouryon Chemicals on Lockport Olcott Road were up for discussion at Monday night’s town planning board meeting. The solar law for the Town of Newfane was drafted in February and prohibited building solar energy sites on “prime farmland soil” and on properties north of the old New York Central Railroad right-of-way which ran east-west from Barker to Burt.
Lockport Union Sun & Journal March 23, 2021
NIAGARA COUNTY: Backs new local law that would require manufacturers to pay to recycle their products.
The Niagara County Legislature has set a public hearing for next month on a proposed new local law that would set new rules on the recycling of solar panels. The new local law would require that solar panel manufacturers finance the recovery and recycling of any of their solar panels installed in Niagara County when a panel needs to be replaced. “We are doing everything we can to battle against Governor Cuomo’s efforts to strip away local decision-making on where these green energy projects can be located in Niagara County,” Godfrey said. “But we need to be prepared to protect our community from becoming a depository for spent solar panels that contain hazardous waste, even for solar projects that enjoy the support from local residents.
Lockport Union Sun & Journal February 24, 2021
Newfane airs draft solar siting law
The proposed Town of Newfane Solar Energy Local Law would declare the northernmost portion of the town off limits to large scale solar energy generation. Among other things, the law calls for the protection of “prime farmland soil” and a complete ban on utility scale solar energy generation facilities on land north of the old New York Central Railroad right-of-way. The reasoning behind both rules is that the character of Newfane is in its farmland, according to town planning board chairman Bill Clark. The sole purpose is to protect the Town of Newfane the best we can from Article 94. If (large facilities) do go in, we want to have as much control as we possibly can without the state thinking we’re stepping over our boundaries and stepping in and overriding us.
Buffalo News December 22, 2020
Niagara County towns plan tougher regulations on solar power as new projects surface (link to attached document)
Thomas J. Prohaska
Two of Niagara County’s largest towns, Lewiston and Wheatfield, have responded to plans for new solar power projects in their communities with plans for tougher laws regulating them. The Lewiston Town Board will vote Monday on a revised local law requiring fields of solar panels to be located farther away from roads and homes than before. The Wheatfield Town Board has scheduled a Jan. 25 public hearing on a six-month solar moratorium. The new Lewiston law amends one passed in 2018 by banning battery storage of power in a rural-residential zone. Such batteries would only be allowed in industrial zones. It also says any solar array must be at least 700 feet from the nearest road or dwelling. The array must be surrounded by a fence of “natural color” at least 8 feet tall, with barbed wire not allowed. The entire site must be screened from view with trees or other vegetation.
Orleans Hub October 29, 2020
Many reasons to reject industrial solar projects, which threaten the countryside
The heavy promotion of industrial solar electric generating installations and their many claimed “benefits” demand further scrutiny: Backup Power Needed; Load Mismatch; Battery Storage; Destruction of Farmland, Forests , Grasslands, Wetlands; Environmental Damage; Subsidies. Serious issues involving industrial solar installations alter the physical and social framework of a community. The same is true of industrial wind. Other options exist to clean up the environment.
Lockport Union Sun & Journal October 20, 2020
County opts out of green-energy tax exemption
Benjamin Joe and Rick Pfeiffer
For Niagara County Legislator David Godfrey the legislative battle over opting out of a state-authorized property tax exemption for solar and wind energy systems had nothing to do with going green. He said the issue was “local control” versus a “top down” set of alternative energy incentives passed on from Albany. We are sending a message. If a project comes to Niagara County and has no community support, there will be no tax breaks.
Orleans Hub February 4, 2020
Public Should Attend Town Board Meetings about Solar and Battery Storage Projects
Heidi Marciniak, Ridgeway Resident
Ridgeway is just the first of numerous solar projects being presented to our community and neighboring communities. This project alone would consist of 11,000 solar panels and a 3MW lithium ion battery which is the size of a tractor trailer. There are numerous concerns regarding a battery of this nature being installed near our residences.
New York Times March 18, 2020
He Set Up a Big Solar Farm. His Neighbors Hated It
Sarah Maslin Nir, Lewiston NY
A push toward renewable energy is facing resistance in rural areas where conspicuous panels are affecting vistas and squeezing small farmers who lease land parcels from bigger farmers or landowners. They fear that they will be squeezed out by energy companies willing to pay more to use farmland for their solar cells. Dropping them in the middle of an agricultural, residential community disrupts a way of life.
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