WATERLOO — One of the state’s largest solar farms is planned for a 450-acre site in the western end of this Seneca County town.
David Boxold, project manager for NextEra Energy Resources of Juno Beach, Fla. told the county Board of Supervisors Tuesday that the $95 million project would be built in 2022 if all the necessary approvals are obtained.
Boxold attended the board’s Public Works Committee meeting to explain the project. He also was there because the committee is considering adding solar farms to the commercial buildings category of the county code. That would include establishing a permit fee of $150 plus, $5 per kilowatt hour.
The solar arrays would be placed on a parcel bordered by Routes 5&20, Packwood Road, Border City Road and Pre-Emption Road, close to the eastern edge of the city of Geneva. The panels would generate 80 megawatts of electric power.
Boxold said the company has a contract with the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency to purchase the electricity for addition to the grid as renewable energy. The company has an option to buy the large tract of land.
“We are going to go through the Article 10 siting process with the state Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment,” Boxold explained. “That will include a detailed public involvement process before the siting board considers permit approval. We want to build this to code. It’s complex, and there is time to work through things. We want to do it right, so were starting the discussion early.”
The agreement with NYSERDA is for 20 years. Boxold said the company plans to operate the farm for at least 30 years.
Boxold said the project would be called the Trelina Solar Energy Center. The company’s website says the town of Waterloo possesses critical elements required for a strong solar project. They include a strong amount of sunshine, existing road infrastructure, access to transmision infrastructure and available land in area well-suited environmentally to host such a project.
The project would generate enough solar energy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an average of 80,000 tons a year, the equivalent of taking more than 16,000 cars off the road.
Boxold said the project could produce 100 to 150 construction jobs and one or two full-time permanent jobs, plus opportunities for local businesses to supply materials to support the construction. A Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) agreement will provide additional revenues to the county, town and school district.
The project is not expected to adversely impact the long-term character of the farmland or the productivity of the soil, according to the company. They cite these reasons:
• Solar projects can be designed to minimize the amount of grading that is required, minimizing disruption to valuable topsoil.
• Photovoltaic projects do not utilize hazardous materials during operations and have a very benign impact on the underlying land.
• When a solar project is removed, there are reasons to believe the underlying land can be returned to agricultural use.
• Solar projects have no impact on surrounding landowners who wish to continue their farming.
More information can be obtained by visiting www.trelinasolarenergycenter.com.
Public meetings on the project are expected to be scheduled this fall.