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Big solar farm eyed for land in Massena, Norfolk, Brasher

Solar farm Enfield, NY (Photo credit: BlueRock Energy

A large-scale solar farm under consideration for St. Lawrence County on land in the towns of Massena, Norfolk and Brasher would provide hundreds of temporary construction jobs and three to four permanent jobs.

North Park Energy, LLC, which is a wholly-owned indirect subsidiary of NextEra Resources, LLC, North Side Energy Center, plans to develop, construct and operate a solar energy center to have a maximum generating capability of 180 megawatts MW.

The project is being planned on approximately 1,600 acres between the three towns. Based on similar projects experience, the project would create about 275-375 temporary construction jobs at its peak during the approximate 8 moths of building.

Once completed, the facility will require three to four local permanent positions.

“We are very early in the process,” NextEra spokesperson Steve Stengel said.

Stengel was not able to provide information about if leases had been signed, what kind of land the project would be built on or the possible economic benefit it could provide St. Lawrence County, the towns and school districts.

“I don't know exactly what has been accomplished,” Stengel answered, when asked if any leases had been signed with landowners. “We are talking to people about the project,” he added.

North Park Energy developed a Public Involvement Plan (PIP) to ensure comments from the community and groups with an interest in the project can objectively weigh in.

The company says in its PIP that the proposed project will have positive socioeconomic impacts in the project area and beyond through employment opportunities, specifically by generating temporary construction employment.

“It’s too premature to talks about economic issues,” Stengel said.

The center would be compatible with state policies promoting renewable energy goals, which proposes the state achieve 50 percent of its electricity to be generated by renewables by 2030.

The project would be constructed on land leased from owners of private property located in the three towns. Project facilities will include commercial-scale solar arrays, access roads, buried (and possibly overhead) electric collection lines, a collection substation, and electrical interconnection facilities.

The farm would also include a 230-kV switchyard, which, will be transferred to the New York Power Authority to own and operate.

Stengel says that flat land is better suited for solar farms. He also says there will be environmental tests, discussions with potential “customers” about where the power would be sent and talks with potential participants of the solar farm.

Stakeholders include host communities, county agencies, state agencies, federal agencies, lawmakers, highway departments, schools, emergency responders, utility companies, adjacent municipalities, public interest groups, aviation facilities, participating landowners, adjacent landowners, and other area residents.

North Park Energy submitted their PIP to the New York State Department of Public Service Nov. 24, 2016.

Open houses to be held locally will offer information about the latest solar industry, environmental, emissions offset, and fuel offset benefits of solar energy; project capabilities and plans for staffing a local facility in the project area; project schedule; intervenor funding and Article 10 process; studies expected to be required for permitting of the project and economic benefits locally.

Stengel said no open houses have been planned yet.

The company plans to submit an application under Article 10 of the Public Service Law (PSL). The project would be approved as part of New York State’s Article 10 process. Article 10 established a process for the siting of electric generating facilities and re-powering projects. As part of the process, a multi-agency state Siting Board is tasked with conducting the permitting process for power plants of 25 megawatts or greater.

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