State’s accelerated review for large-scale renewable energy usurps Home Rule by local governments

Posted 6 July 2021 at 9:51 pm


A quick clarification and comment regarding the July 2, 2021 industrial, renewable energy siting letter submitted by Ms. Joanne Scanlon of Rush, New York.

Ms. Scanlon states the following in her letter:

“The approval of Morris Ridge Solar Energy Center is a victory for us here in the community, and for the new Office of Renewable Energy Siting that provides an efficient process to get shovels in the ground for large-scale renewable projects while preserving local community involvement. ORES was created under climate-forward legislation signed by Governor Cuomo, and replaces an arcane, unworkable predecessor.”

Ms. Scanlon, in her letter, is making comment that the Morris Ridge Solar Energy Center (Mount Morris, New York (Livingston County) is a victory for “us here in the community.” To clarify, Mount Morris, New York (Livingston County) is approximately 28 miles distant from the Town of Rush, New York (Monroe County).

Webster’s definition of the term community states the following:  ”A group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.”

Clearly, Mount Morris, New York (Livingston County) is not the same place as Rush, NY (Monroe County). Additionally, if Ms. Scanlon is indicating that the people of Rush, NY and Mount Morris, NY are in any way homogenous regarding support/opposition of renewable energy projects or even anthropogenic climate change, her comments ring as highly disingenuous.

Lastly, her comment that the Morris Ridge Solar Energy Center is a victory for the new Office of Renewable Energy Siting is also disingenuous. The new “efficient process” she references is now under legal challenge.

This legal challenge/lawsuit from numerous, statewide town and environmental groups, has been filed because the new siting law (94c) eliminates all meaningful local zoning laws and constituent inputs from the siting process. 94c eliminated Home Rule. In fact, the lawsuit was filed after ORES ignored each of the thousands of public comments that were submitted as a part of the new 94c regulation development process and as a result, left the regulations unchanged. To be clear, the unchanged 94c regulations were written by a pro-wind/pro-solar lobbying group hired by ORES. Smelling fishy yet?

Ms. Scanlon clearly seems to have either forgotten or ignored Article IX of the New York State Constitution which protects the Right of Home Rule for New York State municipalities. New York State, with the passing of 94c has actually usurped the Right of Home Rule from every village, town, city and county in New York State.

My understanding, from 8th grade Civics class, is that our government was enacted to protect The People’s rights not bestow or usurp them. 94c is a clear usurpation of the rights of every municipality and citizen of the State of New York and if unchecked, is a sword that will cut all that is near and dear to The People.

It is clear to me that Ms. Scanlon either needs additional education on 94c and the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act or may actually fully support of 94c and the thinly veiled eminent domain process that it represents.

Ms. Scanlon should, at a minimum, review the definition of the term “community.”

Thank you.

John B. Riggi

Councilman, Town of Yates