Orleans EDA approves new policy to better accommodate large-scale solar

Photo by Tom Rivers: This team of installers from Sole Contracting in Delaware secures a panel on Feb. 4 at a new solar project next to Albion’s sewer plant on Densmore Road. The project included 3,888 panels.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 January 2020 at 10:42 am

ALBION – The Orleans Economic Development Agency this morning approved an amendment to its Uniform Tax Exemption Policy to better address larger-scale solar projects.

The policy amendments gives developers the opportunity to negotiate a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) revenue agreement with multiple municipalities through the EDA.

Currently, the developers need to work with multiple taxing jurisdictions, and the agreements without the EDA are capped at 15 years.

The EDA can negotiate longer deals, sometimes for 25 years or more. The added years often can help companies secure financing and provides a long-term predictable stream of revenue for the municipalities, EDA officials said.

The agency had a public hearing on the proposal on Thursday before it was adopted today.

Jim Whipple, the EDA executive director, said the solar projects typically have been small-scale but large projects are being eyed throughout Western New York, including one in Clarendon. Other towns are being approached for solar projects.

Solar companies last year built projects with several thousand solar panels in Albion by the sewer plant on Densmore Road and in Ridgeway on Route 31 and Allis Road. The Albion project didn’t have a PILOT, while Ridgeway negotiated the deal in its town.

If the EDA approves the updated policy, towns still have the option to negotiate their own PILOTs, Whipple said.

“We’re not going to do it unless the taxing entities want it,” Whipple said this morning.

County Legislator Ken DeRoller, a member of the EDA board of directors, said the EDA isn’t looking to push an unwanted project on the towns.

“There is still home rule and the taxing entities have to come to us,” DeRoller said.

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