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Solar Projects Nearing Capacity In County

Since 2020, the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency has approved tax agreements for nearly 20 small solar projects in the county, and have heard proposals for a few more.

But the county may be reaching its limit for these smaller projects.

During the September county IDA meeting, Chief Financial Officer Richard Dixon said National Grid recently held a meeting with town supervisors from across the county and told them they can’t accept many more green energy projects. “We are coming up quickly to the constraint area on the grid. Even with improvements they’re planning to make, the end will come soon for the amount of solar, or wind, that we will be able to interconnect to,” he said.

Since the summer of 2020, the county IDA has approved of tax incentives for 19 different smaller solar projects – four are in Pomfret, four are in Portland, three are in Hanover, three are in Sheridan, two are in Stockton, two are in Harmony, one is in French Creek, and one is in the town of Chautauqua. Each one of those projects are for 5 megawatts or less.

There are others that have been proposed but yet to get final approval for any Payment In Lieu Of Taxes agreement.

The IDA also approved of a large scale 220 megawatt solar project in South Ripley. Dixon said electricity from that project will be traveling along a separate line near the Thruway.

Dixon said along with Chautauqua, Cattaraugus County is being affected by the capacity limit. “We’re in the same area. The end is coming,” he said.

Saturn Power has been approved for two solar projects in Pomfret and is proposing two more – one in Stockton and one in Pomfret.

Company official Adam Rowles was asked by the county IDA about his experience in Chautauqua County. He said he was very pleased. “I think doing business in Chautauqua County is very straight forward. That’s probably the best compliment a solar developer can give. There are definitely counties that are making it a lot harder,” he said.

Rowles said local municipalities understand what they’re trying to do. “The fact is I can show up to meetings, that people take my business seriously, and the laws of most of these municipalities are reasonable,” he said.

He said it isn’t always the case elsewhere. “The municipalities that we’re putting in projects for aren’t really responding logically to them. So I’d say doing business in Chautauqua County is probably one of the best counties to do business in New York state, at the moment, for solar,” Rowles said.

He added that he recognizes that the capacity is getting more difficult locally, but he would do more if he could. “I would love to do more projects in Chautauqua County,” Rowles said.

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