New York state is experiencing a surge in solar power farms, but while clean-energy proponents are supporting their growth, many are growing concerned about their impact on agricultural land.
Such is the case with a $12 million, 7-megawatt solar project proposed by Delaware River Solar for more than 30 acres of farmland at the southwest corner of Fox and Yellow Mill roads.
The Smith Farm solar project hinges on the zoning and planning boards’ approval of four proposed variances that would circumvent the Solar Photovoltaic Systems Regulations law passed in 2017.
“There are four critical zoning variances that the project needs in order to have the proposal move forward,” said Daniel Compitello, the project manager from Delaware River Solar. “If all the approvals come through, we would break ground in mid-2019 and the project would be completed in about 4 months.”
If the proposed variances are denied by the boards, the project, at least at this scale, is done.
The variances that Compitello and Delaware River Solar are seeking are the exact issues that Compitello saw In September 2017.
That’s when the Farmington Town Board unanimously passed the local law permitting large-scale solar operations. Prior to its passage the town formed a committee that included members of the community and the solar industry.
Farmington Town Supervisor Peter Ingalsbe said he knew a local law had to be put on the books to address the issue.
“Two years ago we didn’t have any law or regulation impacting the solar industry. We placed the moratorium while we designed the local law because we were starting to see applications for solar farms,” Ingalsbe said. “We think we’ve done the groundwork and put the right pieces in place. Now we let the zoning and planning board go through this process.”