There is now at least one local representative on the siting board in charge of reviewing a large scale solar project proposed to take up 900 acres in the towns of Cambria and Pendleton.
In a Oct. 24 letter, New York State Assembly Chair Carl Heastie wrote to the New York State Public Service Commission Chair John B. Rhodes saying he was appointing David Naus of North Tonawanda as an ad hoc member to the New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment.
Article X of the state Public Service Law, which puts a seven-member appointed board in charge of reviewing and permitting any electric generating facility that generates 25 megawatts or more, allows host municipalities — Cambria and Pendleton in this case — to nominate four individuals for consideration as ad hoc members of the board. From that list, the state senate and assembly get the first opportunity to appoint one community member each to the board, and if the houses don’t do so within a given period, then the governor gets to appoint two members from the list.
The appointment comes after months of calls from various local and state elected officials to appoint the legally required representatives to the board, and still no reason for the delay is being given.
A spokesperson for the New York State Senate Majority Leader's office said they are finalizing the process and expect to announce their appointment soon.
Cambria Town Supervisor Wright Ellis said the development was good, but noted "look at what it's taken to get it."
A resume attached to the letter shows that Naus has been a Pendleton Planning Board member for six years and a member of the community for more than 22 years. He also has 34 years of experience in electrical construction.
Cypress Creek Renewables is aiming to lease 900 acres of private land throughout a 5,000-acre project area in southern Cambria and a portion of northern Pendleton. The developer plans to install solar panels mounted in rows on racking systems up to 12 feet high. The panels would be visible from a distance of about 1-1/2 miles, including from sites on Bear Ridge Road and IDA Park Drive in Lockport.
Since Cypress Creek went public with its proposal, the grassroots group Cambria Opposition to Industrial Solar organized to raise objections to the project. The Cambria and Pendleton town boards are also officially opposed, on the grounds that the project would violate the towns’ zoning ordinances.