Proposed solar project rouses some opposition

Published: May. 9, 2023 at 5:39 PM EDT
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LAFARGEVILLE, New York (WWNY) - A solar power company has its sights set on Gunns Corners, and the scope of it has some local residents ready to fight.

Taking up at least 1,100 acres between LaFargeville and Stone Mills, the proposed Gunns Corners solar project by Toronto-based Northland Power could generate up to 140 megawatts.

“That is enough to power about 49,000 average homes per NYSERDA’s guidelines,” said Project Development Manager Anne Waling.

The project would bring the area more in line with the state’s 70% renewable energy mandate by 2030. That means the host municipalities would receive “Host Community Benefit” money from the state.

“So, this sort of helps the towns, the highway departments, the counties, and particularly the school districts receive a lot of benefits from this project without a large strain on the resources,” said Waling.

The project is seeing some opposition. One Lafargeville man founded R.O.U.S.E. or Residents Opposed to Unregulated Solar Energy. They’re not fans of Northland Power’s plans for Gunn’s corners.

“The projects that we’re seeing right now and proposed are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Edward Jones, R.O.U.S.E. founder.

Jones says R.O.U.S.E’s main concern is the environment. Many of those 1,100 acres are composed of farmland and some wildlife would end up displaced.

“These solar projects will be the biggest change in our environment and our landscape since this land was settled,” said Jones.

He’d rather see the state try to reach its clean energy goals through hydro or nuclear power.

“If we’re going to injure the land or landscape and still achieve that goal, I’d be all for this. But it’s pie in the sky, in my opinion,” he said.

Northland’s response to R.O.U.S.E?

“I and also Northland really believe that working with people in the community who have concerns is the best way to solve all these issues,” said Waling.

Northland has yet to submit an official application for the project. At this point, the earliest projected date for construction to begin is 2026.