Brasher Residents Receive Latest Update on Proposed Solar Project | Business
BRASHER FALLS – A full house was on hand at the recent Brasher City Council meeting to receive an update on a solar farm project in the towns of Brasher, Norfolk and Massena.
NextEra Energy Resources, through its subsidiary North Star Energy Center, proposes to develop, build, own and operate a solar installation that will produce 180 megawatts of electricity. It would have a construction period of around 12 to 14 months, starting in late 2022 and into 2023.
The 180 megawatt solar power center will be located on land leased or purchased from private owners in the towns of Brasher, Norfolk and Massena. Project components include commercial scale solar panels; access roads; underground and possibly overhead electrical collection lines; a project collection substation; and electrical interconnection facilities.
Most of the project – 90% – will be located in Brasher.
Kris Scornavacca, representing NextEra Energy Resources LLC, gave the audience an overview of the project and its status.
He said the company held two virtual open houses in December last year to provide information about the project and explain the potential benefits to the community. The virtual open house format was necessary due to COVID-19 restrictions.
In January, North Side Energy Center notified that in February it intended to file its application with the state Siting Board for an Environmental Compatibility and Public Utility Certificate authorizing the construction and operation of the project.
On July 9, the Section 10 application filed by the North Side Energy Center was found to meet the filing requirements of the Civil Service Act.
Most recently, a virtual public statement hearing was held to gather comments regarding the proposed solar project. Five people took the floor during the session, all in favor of the project.
Mr. Scornavacca said that while the project area is 2,200 acres, the actual solar plant area encompasses 961 acres. The company has partnered with local landowners to gain access to the project area, but the land will still belong to the landowners.
âThis does not mean that we will use all the land we have,â he said.
He said more than 200 full-time jobs will be created during construction, from equipment operators and laborers to truck drivers. Once construction is complete, there would be two to three permanent positions which are usually high tech. Apart from permanent employment during the operational phase, there would be needs for additional services and supplies, such as vegetation mowing and snow management.
Mr Scornavacca said that once the project is built, the taxes will benefit local communities, the school district and the county. They are seeking a 15-year payment in lieu of taxes agreement with the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency. He said the majority of the compensation would go to the city of Brasher since the bulk of the project is located there.
Among the public concerns was the impact the solar farm would have on views of homes. He said each affected area has been surveyed and, if necessary, vegetative screening in the form of native or native evergreen trees, pollinator-friendly deciduous shrubs and small ornamental tree species. will be provided. These should be of adequate height and width to provide the appropriate and required visual screen.
âWe will be planting throughout the project area based on the physical assessment – this does not mean that everyone in the project area will have a row of trees in the street or where they are. live, âsaid Mr Scornavacca.
Another concern was the impact on wildlife.
As part of its development process, NextEra Energy Resources conducts extensive wildlife studies to ensure that each site complies with all applicable state and federal environmental regulations. Mr Scornavacca said the company was working with the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation to resolve the issue.