December 5, 2021

Solar project on track

Work on site along Tower Road could begin in summer

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

An all-terrain vehicle drives Wednesday down Tower Road in Cortlandville. A 16-acre, 3-megawatt solar farm is nearing construction on the site just off the road.

Construction on a 3-megawatt, 16-acre solar project in Cortlandville could start this summer on Tower Road.

The Cortlandville Town Board received and filed a letter Wednesday from Christopher Stroud, the chief operating officer for developer Cipriani Energy Group, noting that a payment had been made for an interconnection agreement with National Grid, legally signifying the beginning of construction.

Future projects in the town may face more challenges, because the board also voted, 4-0, to start the process of implementing a six-month moratorium on solar projects, to both give the town time to update its 1978 comprehensive plan and to adopt solar battery storage laws, said Town Attorney John DelVecchio.

The Cipriani payment was second of two to National Grid for potential upgrades needed to the electrical connection to the grid, Stroud said before Wednesday’s meeting. This could potentially include larger, more powerful wires and upgrading the projects’ substation that is used to convert voltages.

The cost would be between $100,000 to $200,000, he said.

The project has been approved by the town planning board and is pending a building permit from the building code department, Cortlandville Planning and Zoning Officer Bruce Weber said before the meeting.

“We’re excited,” Stroud said. “Cortland County is a beautiful place. The folks are friendly.”

The project is a community solar project where National Grid customers will have the choice to get their energy from the solar panels without any added fees, he said. The project is projected to provide power up to 300 homes.

Stroud said, following approvals for permits and pending weather, he expects construction can begin this summer and be complete by the end of the year.

Construction work will employ between 10 to 20 people.

Stroud wasn’t sure Wednesday on how the approximately $4 million project would be paid as it was a question of whether the project is sold to an investor or if it will be held by Cipriani Energy Group, he said.

Most likely, the company will pay for the project through a construction loan.

The project is one of roughly a dozen that have been either proposed or approved in the town.

Others include:

  • A 90-megawatt project in Homer, Cortlandville and Solon by EDF Renewables.
  • Two five-megawatt projects on Riley Road.
  • Two side-by-side five-megawatt projects on Bell Crest Drive by Summit Solar Capital.
  • Six one- to two-megawatt projects on land owned by Gutchess Lumber.

TOWN ZBA SUED

DelVecchio announced at the meeting the town Zoning Board of Appeals is being sued by solar developer Source Renewables after the developer was denied a use variance in a proposed project.

The project comprises five megawatts on 24 acres off Locust Avenue in Cortlandville and another five megawatts on 44 acres off Locust Avenue in the city.