Saugerties solar farm moves forward

Anne Waling of Cypress Creek Renewables describes plans for a solar farm. (photo by David Gordon)

At its regular meeting on December 20, Saugerties’ town planning board received additional details about a two-megawatt solar farm proposed for Kings Highway and School Road. Anne Waling, a manager for Cypress Creek Renewables of Plattsburgh, updated the board on plantings, layout and maintenance of the property.

The plan, originally presented at the board’s October meeting, calls for two megawatts of power to be generated by solar panels occupying 24 acres of the 122-acre site. A map showed some 65 rows of panels on the 24 acres, with an access road running through a portion of the array. The planned facility is in the medium density zone, to which the town board recently added a provision permitting large-scale energy development. The power would be sold to Central Hudson electricity customers and would show on Central Hudson’s bills.

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Planning board member Len Bouren asked whether the panels would be mounted in concrete. Waling responded that they would be mounted on posts rammed into the ground, which could be easily removed if necessary, leaving little or no disturbance. The only concrete-mounted equipment would be the inverter, which converts the direct current from solar panels to alternating current.

“All of it is reversible,” planning consultant Dan Shuster said. “If you decide you want to plant hay instead of having solar panels, you pull up your pipes and the site pretty much goes back to the way it was.”

Central Hudson electricity customers could buy the solar electricity. Preference would be given to people living near the installation, Waling said. She provided photo simulations showing how the site would look over the next few years. They show the solar panels nearly invisible after five years, as greenery planted to screen it matures.

The county planning board must also review the project. Saugerties must also allow the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (Nyserda) lead-agency status on the application, Shuster said. It would be very unlikely that the state agencies would want to lead the environmental review, he said.

Ulster County’s planning board will be asked for comments. A public hearing is scheduled for the next local planning board meeting on January 17. The developers plan a public information meeting prior to the public hearing, with the date not yet announced.

 

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