solar panels on roof

Three closed landfills in the city and town will be the sites of a cumulative 8.12 megawatt solar array. The 38-acres of the Niagara County Refuse Disposal District will be leased by BQ Energy Development LLC at $1,375 an acre and will also enter into a separate payment-in-lieu-of taxes with the Niagara County Industrial Development Authority (IDA).

Dawn Timm, environmental coordinator for Niagara County and director of the Refuse Disposal District, said she was thrilled by steps the project had taken.

“I’m really excited about it,” she said. “I had tremendous help from the Niagara County Department of Economic Development. Amy Fisk, she’s a brownfield coordinator for Niagara County and she’s an exceptional talent. She was instrumental in assisting me, because it was difficult for one person to pull together. Her and I have been working on this since last October.”

The project, as Timm described it, “makes total sense.”

“You’re taking previously unusable land that does nothing but require expenses. … We’re now turning that vacant land into an income generator. It’s the best possible location for solar,” she said. “We’re utilizing land that never can be utilized for anything else.”

Timm said that the benefits of the project are three-fold.

“The Refuse Disposal District is generating revenue from land that has never generated revenue since it’s been closed,” she said. “We’re receiving about $50,000 a year in the land lease. In addition to that, we also will have the remote site completely fenced in and all of the vegetation will be maintained inside the fence. That’s a cost savings to the county.”

Timm also mentioned that Niagara County will receive 20% of the power generated to offset costs.

“For example, you’ll be looking at a $15,000 savings in the cost of transportation and delivery of power,” she said. “The remaining 20% – 12 million megawatt hours – would go to the community. If they want to participate in this power they’ll receive a 10% reduction in their expenses (provided they are NYSEG customers).”

Timm said the biggest user of energy in the county is the Niagara County Jail, and those expenses will be offset by the project. She also said that New York State Energy Research & Development (NYSERDA) basically laid out the path and gave her a template to follow regarding the project.

“We knew that we were looking for a community solar project,” she said. “We wanted this to go to the community. We opened up the responses on April 22, Earth Day, which is timely, and it took several months to get through … but we arrived at a conclusion of the vendor.”

The resolution was passed at Tuesday’s Legislature meeting.

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