Orleans decides against $3.9 million solar farm

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 September 2016 at 6:43 pm

ALBION – Orleans County legislators were prepared today to commit to a $3.9 million solar energy project, with a solar array to be installed at the Albion Business Park on Route 31 near Butts Road.

However, county officials had misgivings after learning other counties tackling the projects have experienced delays in hooking the system into the power grid. That situation seems exclusive to National Grid in New York, said Chuck Nesbitt, the county’s chief administrative officer.

The solar project was projected to save the county $2 million to $2.5 million in electricity costs over 25 years. But that was only if the county could secure production incentives for the renewable energy project.

Nesbitt said the system would need to be in place and connected to the grid by Dec. 31, 2017. Other counties have experienced delays with National Grid, making the projects stretch out to 18 months.

If Orleans had to wait 18 months to connect to the grid that would be beyond the deadline for receiving the production incentives, making the project a cost liability for county taxpayers, Legislature Chairman David Callard said this afternoon.

“It’s a disappointment,” Callard said during today’s County Legislature meeting. “We just felt it’s not a good decision to make.”

Callard said some municipalities have had vendors, such as Solar City, assume the risk for a solar project, trying to have it operational and hooked to the grid in time to be eligible for tax incentives.

That’s a risk that Callard and county legislators decided not to take.

The Orleans Economic Development Agency owns the land at the Albion Business Park. The park includes a health care site owned by Orleans Community Health. Most of the other land is wooded and considered a wetland.

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