County planners give OK for 2 solar projects in Gaines

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 April 2021 at 10:07 am

GAINES – The Orleans County Planning Board on Thursday voted in support of two solar energy projects in Gaines.

The Planning Board recommended Gaines officials approve the site plans and give permits for both projects.

Next Era Energy Resources has proposed a 5-megawatt project with 21,580 solar panels at 2378 Gaines Waterport Road in Residential/Agriculture District. The project would be on land owned by Donald and Janelle Uderitz.

The Planning Board noted the location is in a low-density residential and rural area of Route 279, not far from the Gaines Valley Aviation Airport.

The project would utilize 35.4 acres of a 93-acre parcel. Janet Ward, a representative for the company, said the interconnection has been approved by National Grid, and the U.S. Army Corps also has signed off on the project.

There will be a 8-foot-high chain link fence around the solar arrays with emergency access gates every 300 feet. There will also be trees planted as a visual shield from the road.

The solar arrays will be on a single-axis tracker that can slowly rotate in the direction of the sun.

The project also includes storage batteries for up to 3.75 megawatts of power. Those batteries have a self-extinguishing system in case of a fire.

The company is doing a long-term lease with a decommissioning plan to turn the site back to farmland, Ward said.

The other project in Gaines has an access drive on Route 279 but the address is 14325 West Bacon Rd. The 3-megawatt project will be on about 20 acres of land owned by Brian Stendts and Mary Declerck.

This solar project is being developed by AES Solar. It doesn’t include a battery storage system.

There  will be a chain-link fence around the project, with plantings on the east and south sides as a visual buffer from the road and neighbors.