Developer Says Chaumont Solar Farm Would Benefit Community

Developer Says Chaumont Solar Farm Would Benefit Community

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David Norbut wants to build a solar farm on Morris Tract Road.  He says it's the perfect location, right next to a substation. The land is hidden by trees, and it's not good for much else.

"This land has been deemed unbuildable because of the bedrock being at 12 inches below soil and the village sewer is actually at capacity," said Norbut, CEO of Norbut Solar Farms. 

The Rochester developer has proposed five, 5 megawatt arrays. But unlike big projects that sell to the open market, the solar farm would hook into local lines and sell directly to homes and businesses.

"You can purchase services from us at usually about a 10 percent discount for the consumer, so you buy directly from us rather than paying the upcharge through the utility," said Norbut.

Norbut says to build, his company would employ 100 people with a payroll of $31 million. 

The project would also buy $33 million in materials like concrete, hardware and fuel - $11.5 million of that would be spent locally.  

Norbut also says the solar farm could serve as a classroom for the school district, teaching students about solar. 

He says it's taking advantage of a credit we're all already paying for.

"There's a charge on everyone's utility bill called an SBC charge and you help fund projects like this so if the project doesn't come to this area, your money is going to another county, into another village to rebuild renewable projects,"  he said.

The project is seeking a payment in lieu of taxes or PILOT agreement, which would need to be approved.  Instead of taxes, his company is offering to pay more than $625,000 to the county, town, village and school over a 15 year period.   He says left undeveloped, over those 15 years, the taxes paid on it would be much less - $46,000.

The project also needs approval from the village. However, it has been put on hold as the village seeks a 3-month moratorium to come up with regulations for solar projects. But, Norbut says time is of the essence.

"We need them as soon as possible or the project is in jeopardy. We would have to start construction early next year 2020 but we would really need our approvals within the next 3 months," he said.

Norbut says that's because state grant funding is running out and a federal subsidy could go away. He hopes the village works with him to make the project happen this year.  

"It's a community project, we're just using funds that everybody's already paid to build in your community to give you power for less money and give you a more stable tax base. It's pretty powerful," he said.

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