Canton voices concerns about planned solar farm in wake of fire

Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 4:51 PM EDT
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TOWN OF CANTON, New York (WWNY) - Town of Canton officials have questions about a planned solar project after a solar farm fire in the Chaumont area recently.

Officials themselves, along with residents, are concerned about potential battery fires if a proposed 1,700-acre, 240-megawatt solar farm is built along Rich Road just outside the village.

EDF Renewables is proposing the project.

The concerns come after the emergency 3 weeks ago in the town of Lyme where a solar farm’s batteries caught fire. A shelter-in-place order was issued.

For 8 hours, firefighters didn’t know what chemicals they were dealing with and had to remain on the scene for a few days.

In a letter from Canton Town Attorney William Buchan to EDF’s lawyer, it states similar battery storage is proposed to be on-site near Canton and points out there are no fire hydrants near the proposed site, and that water would need to be trucked in.

The letter continues to say, “We suggest that unless the battery installation is located within an area currently served or planned to be served with water, it should not be permitted.”

“In general, the questions I’m trying to address are: is it appropriate in the place that it’s proposed; should that particular site have things such as public water for addressing a fire if it should happen, is the training that’s being proposed by our first-responders adequate,” said Buchan.

Canton Town Supervisor Mary Ann Ashley says town officials have been cautious with any kind of solar development for years.

“One of the top priorities for the town of Canton is to protect the health, safety and welfare of our community. The Town Board has done our due diligence for close to five years because we knew solar development was coming this way,” she said.

We reached out to the state for a response to the town’s concerns as well as the attorneys for EDF Renewables, but have yet to hear back from either of them.