Lockport considering temporary solar moratorium 

James Neiss/staff photographerThe sun shines bright on a solar farm, with signs from BlueRock Solar and CIR Electrical Construction Corp. at the entrance, on Grand Island on Bedell Road.

Earlier this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced renewable energy companies were seeking to provide over 4,000 megawatts of clean energy to New York homes. The figure comes from solicitations for a offshore wind project totaling 2,500 megawatts, and coordinated solicitations for land-based renewable energy projects, like solar, totaling 1,500 megawatts.

What this means for the Town of Hartland, and renewable energy project Ridge View Solar, is still an open question.

“Should we be able to secure a contract before the end of the year, construction could start as early as 2023 or 2024 and operations could start as early as 2024 or 2025,” said Kevin Campbell, development manager for EDF Renewables, the company proposing the Ridge View Solar.

In the meantime, with the project “frozen,” because of COVID-19, Hartland Supervisor Ross Annable said he is trying to find independent sources to get the facts to the public before any plans move forward.

“I want to do what’s best for the town,” Annable said. “(The project) is a huge financial impact, especially today (with state aid cuts expected).”

Annable said he has attended classes in which fire officials have testified to the safety of one of the biggest issues cited in his town – the battery storage units. 

Far from being a dangerous, explosive-prone unit, Annable said he’s heard they’re quite safe from experts in the field. He noted that the town would not have to pay $1 million to start a hazmat team because they are covered by one in place in Niagara Falls. 

Annable also said that in large cities, battery storage units are in buildings and hospitals, where fire officials are unalarmed by their presence, one of whom directed a class on the subject.

“No matter who’s side pays you, you got to be consistent,” Annable said, in reference to the travel and boarding expenses that EDF paid to bring the retired fire chief from Boston to speak.

All the same, before COVID-19 hit, Annable said he’d been in contact with people at UB and reached out to academics at Cornell, as well, and will continue to seek their expertise in the matter. He hopes to deliver a report that will cite independent sources, and deliver that to the town residents.

“It’s not new (technology),” he said, adding this means there is information on its use. “It’s just new to this area.”

Comment from a local opposition group to the project, CPORC (Coalition to Protect Our Rural Communities), could not be reached at press time.

Recommended for you