WATERLOO — NextEra Energy Resources, the Florida-based developer of a proposed 80 megawatt solar electric generating project in the west end of the town, will do at least 15 studies of possible impacts of the project as part of its application process.
The list of studies is included in the company’s Preliminary Scoping Statement (PSS), filed on Oct. 10. The studies must be completed before the company can formally submit an application for approval to the state Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment.
The PSS is required under the review process for the project under Article 10 of the New York State Public Service Law.
The studies would address positive, neutral or negative impacts of the project on public health and safety, air emissions, safety and security of the facility, noise and vibrations, cultural resources, geology, seismology and soils; terrestrial ecology and wetlands; aquatic ecology and water resources, visual impacts, effects on transportation, effects on communication, socioeconomic effects, environmental justice and site restoration and decommissioning.
Mitigation of negative impacts must be proposed.
At recent public meetings, some residents of the Packwood, Serven and Border City roads and Pre-Emption Street area where the project would be built voiced concerns about the visual impact of hundreds of solar panels.
The PSS says the first step in the visual impact study will be definition of a Visual Study Area or VSA. NextEra officials said they will propose a study area of two to five miles. During the pre-application phase and once a solar array layout has been determined, the company will prepare a preliminary viewshed analysis.
The VSA is currently proposed to be five miles around the property boundaries of the project area and not around the general perimeter of the solar arrays themselves. Municipalities to be wholly or partially included in the VSA are the towns of Waterloo, Fayette, Geneva, Phelps, Junius, Tyre, Seneca Falls and Seneca and the city of Geneva.
The PSS details how those studies will be conducted. NextEra officials said they will carefully study the best place on the leased land to put the solar panels, promising to keep them as far from residences as possible and using generous tree and shrub screening.
The project would include commercial scale solar arrays, access roads, buried and possible overhead electrical interconnection lines, a collection substation and electrical interconnection facilities. There would be a 115 kilovolt switchyard that will be transferred to New York State Electric & Gas Corporation to own, maintain and operate.
The solar project will connect to the NYSEG Border City substation. The company said the solar panels will be about 10 feet high.
State agencies and other interested persons are encouraged to engage in discussions with NextEra during the study phase to reach agreements or stipulations regarding the details of those studies. The contact person is David Boxold and his email is firstname.lastname@example.org. His mailing address is 700 Universe Blvd., FEW/JB, Juno Beach, Fla., 33408.
Additional information about the Article 10 siting process and the PSS phase is available at www.dps.ny.gov/sitingboard.