Solar Power Could Be Lucrative For Lewis County Farmers

Solar Power Could Be Lucrative For Lewis County Farmers

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Solar power may be the new wave in Lewis County.

U.S. Light Energy, a company out of Latham, New York, is contracting with a handful of farmers around the county to put up what are called "Community" solar projects - small solar arrays that can provide power for the surrounding area.

"The community definition is pretty large. It's anywhere basically from Syracuse to Massena, so it's not just in the town of Croghan for example, it's a much, larger area," said Eric Virkler, Lewis County Industrial Development Agency executive director. 

People who live in the area would have to sign up with U.S. Light Energy to tap into that power; they could save up to 10 percent on their electricity bills.

The farmers who lease the land for these projects stand to make a decent buck as well.

Brien Tabolt is leasing 40 acres of his land.

"Farmland typically leases for $50-$100 an acre. Well, this is gonna pay more than that. Substantially more," he said.

Before any of these projects can be built, however, there are some hurdles to clear.

The towns where each project would go have to approve the construction sites and the county's industrial development agency is working on a blanket tax policy that would apply for the whole county.

"A solar array over here, a solar array over there, really should be similar and the property taxation of it should be similar," said Virkler.

If that all goes smoothly, construction could begin on these projects in the spring. 

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