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$6.8M Solar Farm Proposed In Hanover

A nearly $7 million solar farm has been proposed for the town of Hanover.

During a meeting last week of the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency, board members gave first step approval for a 5 megawatt solar farm at 1317 Routes 5 & 20, Silver Creek. The solar panels would be placed on 33 acres of a 45-acre parcel.

Jon Rappe, chief executive officer of Hanover PV, LLC and also with the parent company RIC Energy, discussed the project with IDA board members Tuesday over Zoom.

The solar farm would be placed on property owned by Steve Valvo, who would lease the land to the company. The project is expected to cost $6,895,000 to construct.

The company is seeking real property tax abatement, sales tax abatement and mortgage tax abatement.

The project is expected to create 30 construction jobs and one half-time position for maintenance. It would take about three to four months to build.

According to an impact analysis study, this project would create a 1-to-1 cost to benefit ratio.

Rappe said their goal is to sell energy to NYSEG, which has a nearby line and substation.

He added that the development would be set back 500 feet from the road, which is the town law and also what the land owner requested, so he could potentially rent out the front for a higher use project.

Rappe was asked if he was open to doing similar projects in the county, which he replied he was. “In fact, yes, we have several projects that are in development in Chautauqua County. … I expect to be speaking to you often over the next year, hopefully,” he said.

Richard Dixon, chief financial officer for the IDA responded saying, “great!”

When the time came to vote, board members were told this was a preliminary resolution which authorizes the project to move forward.

The board voted 5-1 in favor of the project. Board member Mark Odell, who is also a Republican county legislator from Brocton, voted no.

In July, Odell voted against the proposed Ripley solar project, which is a 20 megawatt project and would cost around $348 million to construct.

Reached after Tuesday’s meeting, Odell said he has concerns about the Hanover project, similar to the ones he has in Ripley.

“This isn’t the climate, in my opinion, to be doing these kind of investments,” he said. “We should be putting money toward infrastructure and improvements that benefit everybody.”

Odell believes these solar projects are too heavily subsidized and he is concerned about the location, although he was happy to hear it would be set back 500 feet from the road.

Odell said he does support smaller solar projects, like the 2 megawatt project for Portland. That project, he noted, will be placed on a dead end road and will not be visible to the general public.

Mark Geise, county IDA executive director, said the project will return to the board in the coming months and eventually the board will need to hold a public hearing before final approval can be given.

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