Siting board denies St. Lawrence County solar farm application

Solar farm panels.
Solar farm panels.(Source: WWNY)
Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 12:16 PM EDT
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ALBANY, New York (WWNY) - A state siting board has rejected plans for a 180-megawatt solar farm in St. Lawrence County.

The New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment denied approval to North Side Energy Center, LLC to build and operate a 180-megawatt solar farm in the towns of Brasher, Massena, and Norfolk.

According to the board, the company’s application “failed to adequately address the significant adverse impacts to freshwater wetlands on the site.”

The state says the North Side project area consisted of approximately 2,235 acres of leased land. The project was to be sited in rural areas in each of the three towns, which is comprised of agricultural and forested land and includes 37 wetland areas and 11 regulated streams.

The wetlands total 1,504 acres, or 67 percent — more than two-thirds – of the project area.

The project components were proposed to be located on approximately 1,200 to 1,400 acres of the 2,235 acres making up the project area and were estimated to impact more than 500 acres of wetlands. In addition, seven threatened or endangered species were documented in the project area.

To date, the Siting Board has approved 17 renewable energy projects since 2018. North Side is the first renewable energy project rejected by the Siting Board.

North Side was expected to begin commercial operation in late 2023.

The state says the project developer was unable to demonstrate it would comply with applicable state environmental laws related to wetlands and threatened and endangered species.

“It’s important to note that significant efforts by State agency parties were made throughout the review process to have the developer change the project to reduce the impacts on wetlands and endangered species, including by reducing the size of the project. The developer can seek rehearing and appeal the Siting Board’s decision or file a new application,” the siting board said in a news release.

The state also said the presence of several threatened and endangered species, as well as species of special concern in the project area, is not disputed by North Side.

A spokesperson for North Side issued the following statement: “North Side Energy Center is aware of, and disappointed by, the siting board’s decision. We are evaluating our next steps at this time.”

The state’s decision can be seen by going to the Documents section at www.dps.ny.gov and entering Case Number 17-F-0598 in the input box labeled “Search for Case/Matter Number”.

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