NY’s Largest Solar Farm Project by Acreage Gains Approval
ALBANY, N.Y. — The New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment authorized Excelsior Energy Center LLC to construct and manage a 280-megawatt solar farm in the Town of Byron, located in Genesee County.
Following a review of the project and a public participation process, the siting board determined the solar farm project meets or exceeds all requirements consistent with the energy policies outlined in the state’s latest energy plan. The project area encompasses around 3,443 vacant acres while the project footprint sits at 1,716 acres.
In a release announcing the solar project, the Genesee County Economic Development Center estimated the cost of the project at $345 million and said it will provide a $117.5 million economic impact. Excelsior is expected to bring $37.4 million in revenue to the county, town and school district in tax benefits for public investment.
“The project will consist of commercial-scale solar arrays, access roads, buried and possibly overhead electric collection lines, a collection substation, and electrical interconnection facilities,” Siting Board officials said in the release.
“Additional facilities would include a 345-[kilovolt] switchyard which will be transferred to the New York Power Authority to own, maintain, and operate. The project would be located on land leased from owners of private property.”
The project is expected to create 290 construction jobs, three to four full-time positions and job opportunities for landscaping and snow plowing throughout the solar farm’s lifespan. Once completed, the farm will eliminate around 205,432 tons of carbon dioxide emissions from the New York state power sector by next year.
The facility will contain 20 MW of battery storage and Excelsior said its energy will support local farms that employ 70 people in the Town of Byron. The solar farm is expected to generate enough electricity to power 74,000 average-sized homes annually, according to industry estimates.
Approximately $40.8 million will be invested in construction labor, equipment operators, truck drivers, laborers and electricians, according to the Siting Board. This project marks the 17th renewable energy project approved by the Siting Board since 2018 and the largest to date by acreage.
In January, Hecate Energy submitted an application for a 500-MW solar farm in Genesee County to the New York Office of Renewable Energy Siting. Hecate’s Cider Solar Farm project is expected to produce enough electricity to power 125,000 average homes annually once completed and will be New York’s largest solar farm by power generation.
The Cider Solar Farm would offset nearly 400,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions and will be capable of supplying 920,000 MWh of renewable electricity annually, according to Hecate. If approved for construction, the farm will operate in the Genesee County communities of Elba and Oakfield.
The Well News reported in March that the United States’ renewable resource capacity increased by 685 MW this year, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data. Over half of the country’s newly established renewable energy capacity is solar-powered and data compiled by S&P Global in February showed 200 solar projects were completed that month within the Eastern Interconnection electrical grid.
“The Excelsior solar farm and other renewable energy projects built or currently under development are vital to meet the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act’s aggressive carbon reduction and clean energy targets to combat climate change,” Siting Board Chair Rory Christian said in a written statement. “This solar farm will benefit all New Yorkers by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, boosting clean-energy investment, creating clean-energy jobs, and improving our environment.”
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