WOLCOTT — Wayne County has approved its first PILOT agreement for a small-scale solar project that will give residents access to lower-cost power.
San Francisco-based Hollygrove Solar is spending over $3 million to build a 2 megawatt solar farm on Route 104A, said Brian Pincelli, economic development director for Wayne County.
Pincelli said it’s the first solar payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement the county’s Industrial Development Agency has approved since it adopted a policy for such projects back in 2017.
According to the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency, the state Legislature exempted community solar projects from local property taxes as a way to encourage clean energy. However, the state does allow localities to provide PILOTs, meaning they pay taxes on a fraction of a solar farm’s assessed value over a 15-year period, Pincelli explained.
Under the program, Hollygrove Solar would pay about $11,000 in the first year, 2020, a figure that would rise on a yearly basis to $14,000 in the final year of the PILOT. The money would be split by the town, county and the Red Creek Central School District; the latter, as the largest taxing entity, would get the biggest share of the money, Pincelli said.
After the 15-year PILOT period, said Pincelli, the solar farm would be subject to full taxation.
Pincelli noted he was able to negotiate a one-time payment of $50,000 to the town of Wolcott as part of the PILOT agreement that was approved in December.
Wolcott Town Supervisor Lynn Chatfield said work on the solar farm is underway.
Pincelli said that once the farm is generating power, Hollygrove Solar can sell it to Wolcott residents at a discounted rate. However, the size of the project means there won’t be enough electricity generated to serve the whole town, Pincelli noted.
“That’s one reason why we have the host community benefit (payment),” he said.
The Hollygrove Solar project is one of many that are in the works around the state, Pincelli noted. Besides property tax savings, other incentives include a 30 percent tax credit offered by New York.
With the Hollygrove Solar project developer hailing from California, the tax incentives appear to be drawing developers from across the nation, he said.
“The market in New York seems to be attractive to developers,” Pincelli said.