Niagara County forming group to confront large-scale energy projects

Work crews add solar panels to a solar farm on Grand Island earlier this year.

Tuesday's event at Buffalo State College to gather public input on the Office of Renewable Energy Siting draft regulations, has been moved to a virtual format due to COVID-19 fears.

ORES issued draft regulations in September – that can be found online at ores.ny.gov/regulations –and set up five public hearings and two virtual hearings to solicit public comment.

In Niagara County, there are two large-scale solar projects that would fall under ORES’s siting jurisdiction, one proposed by EDF Renewables in the Towns of Hartland and Newfane, called Ridge View Solar, and another proposed by Cypress Creek Renewables in the Town of Cambria called Bear Ridge Solar. 

Both of these projects have faced heavy opposition in their municipalities that have gathered support from local officials who say the new process of siting renewable energy projects tramples over local zoning law and home rule.

“I oppose any changes of siting electrical generating projects that limits or removes discretion and the voices of local authorities. I strongly believe that local governments should continue to be allowed to determine which projects are approved within its own community,” wrote Assemblyman Mike Norris in a statement.

Ed Saleh of the Cambria Opposition to Industrial Solar also commented on the matter.

"We're against the abolishment of home rule by those in Albany that couldn't point to Cambria or any other community outside their jurisdiction on a map," he said, noting the group will be submitting a statement to ORES. "Our goal is to save Cambria from foreign entities and their hedge funds from placing an industrial power plant smack in the middle of an AR (agricultural) district and in direct proximity to over 350 homes."

The Buffalo Public Hearing can be accessed by going to https://www.webex.com, and entering the event number, 173 337 2186, and the password, 11.17PSH.

It can also be accessed by phone by calling 518-549-0500 with the access code: 173 337 2186. 

To make a statement during the meeting, participants must register by visiting www.webex.com by Nov. 16 and click “Join” at the top right-hand corner of the screen. To do so by phone, call 1-800-342-3330, also by Nov. 16.

Those with disabilities should call 518-474-2520 as soon as possible. Those with difficulty understanding English may call 1-800-342-3377 for free language assistance services.

All information can also be found on https://ores.ny.gov/event/buffalo-public-hearing.

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