WATERLOO — A state agency has provided details for 20 large-scale renewable energy projects in New York, including a proposed massive solar facility in the town of Waterloo.
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) announced $1.5 billion in competitive awards for the projects. That came after Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State Address, when he ramped up his mandate for 70 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030.
His previous goal for 2030 was 50 percent.
“The state is aggressively pursuing large-scale renewable energy under the governor’s Clean Energy Standard,” said Doreen Harris, NYSERDA’s Director of Large-Scale Renewables. “What is important to note is that New York has some of the most aggressive clean energy policies in the country and has become an area of interest for project developers from other parts of the country. They are interested in growing their business and investing in New York State.”
One of the 20 projects is the proposed North Light Energy Center in Seneca County. NextEra Energy Resources, a Florida-based company, wants to build an 80-megawatt solar facility in the town of Waterloo.
Town Supervisor Don Trout said the company is looking to buy land in the area of Pre-Emtption Street, Serven Road, Packwood Road, and Border City Road. The facility would take up 200 to 500 acres.
Trout said the Town Board is having a public hearing Monday on a solar ordinance in the town. Trout added that NextEra Energy would be looking for a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement with assistance from the state.
“This is in line with what is going on in the state as far as renewable energy,” Trout said.
State officials said community engagement and support is critical to the development of renewable energy projects. Therefore, developers are required to work closely with host communities.
“It’s important to note that the state’s commitment to fund these projects is based on the developer’s ability to proceed with the project, secure the proper permits and interconnection, and be operational,” Harris said. “There are a lot of milestones these developers will need to meet in the coming months and years.”
The review process also includes a commitment by developers to avoid lands of agricultural importance in their project layout. Harris said NYSERDA and the state Department of Agriculture and Markets are working to make sure the projects are developed in a manner consistent with state farming standards.
Another proposed project is Manchester Solar. Gardner Capital, a housing and clean energy company with offices in several major U.S. cities, plans to build a 19.99-megawatt solar facility in the town of Manchester.
Manchester Supervisor Jeff Gallahan could not be reached for comment.
State officials said the projects will combat climate change and grow New York’s clean energy economy. Of the 20 projects, 16 are solar projects and four are wind-power projects, which include energy storage capability.
Several projects in the state will break ground later this year. All are expected to be operational by 2022.
The projects are expected to generate enough clean, renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions by more than 2 million metric tons — the equivalent to taking nearly 437,000 cars off the road.
Unlike small-scale solar projects that supply electricity directly to homes, Harris said the large-scale projects will deliver power to the wholesale grid.
“With early solar development, in most cases it was smaller projects in New York such as putting panels on rooftops or an acre or two of land. However, the types of solar projects we have been advancing in New York over the last three to four years call for competitive solicitation like we are seeing now,” Harris said. “We have been competitively soliciting in this state for large-scale renewable energy since the early 2000s, but much of that was wind energy. More recently, large-scale solar projects have become competitive and companies are utilizing large-scale solar in the state.”