Company shares info on proposed Alder Creek solar project

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BOONVILLE — Apex Clean Energy hosted two public informational hearings last week to provide information and take questions from the community about the solar energy project proposed in the towns of Boonville and Forestport.

Apex Clean Energy presented to interested community stakeholders Tuesday at the Boonville Elementary and Wednesday at the Forestport Town Hall.

The room was packed in Forestport as representatives for Apex Clean Energy discussed project scope, the permitting process, and the potential economic impacts for the area. Alder Creek Solar would potentially provide approximately $400,000 per year, which would be split between the county, the towns of Boonville and Forestport, and local school districts.

“I’m glad this many people showed up for the meeting,” Natalie Roth of Benn Realty said.

The point of interest is centered near the Alder Creek Beverage company. The project would potentially consist of multiple areas of solar-energy generating units connected underground. The area the solar farm would be built on up to 1,000 acres of leased private land from multiple land owners.

This area is ideally suited for a solar project, according to Apex Clean Energy Public Engagement Manager Brian O’Shea.

“This area makes sense as a renewable solar resource,” he said. “One reason is transmission capacity. The existing infrastructure means that we will not have to build miles of new transmission line. Another reason is New York in general is a great place to develop renewable energy.”

O’Shea said that the project would bring nearly 100 jobs, although not necessarily to local contractors, to the community during the construction phase. O’Shea said it is too early in the process to know what the mix of labor would include.

To move forward with Alder Creek Solar, Apex Clean Energy must complete the New York state permitting system for major electric generating facilities, called Article 10. This process requires the creation of a public involvement plan, which summarizes project efforts to educate, inform, and involve the public in the permitting process and provides the community those opportunities to get involved.

There are five stages of the Article 10 process. The steps include pre-application, application, administrative hearings, siting board decision, and compliance. The Alder Creek Solar project is in the pre-application stage.

The Preliminary Public Involvement Program Plan for Alder Creek Solar was submitted Sept. 25, and the revised plan was submitted Nov. 22. The next step for Alder Creek Solar is to prepare and submit the application to the state. Once all paperwork is submitted, the state had a year to review. The final determination of the project is made by the state siting board, which ideally would include two local representatives.

If the process continues smoothly, construction could start on the facility in late 2023 with potential commercial operation beginning in 2024.

More information about the Article 10 process, including how the community can get involved, can be found on www.aldercreeksolar.com/article_10.

This is not the first time a solar generating company has been interested in the Forestport/ Boonville area. “We had been approached by another similar company a few years ago,” landowner Edward Borwick said.

For more information about the project, contact Carmen O’Keefe, Alder Creek Solar project developer for Apex Clean Energy, at info@aldercreeksolar.com or 315-284-5299.

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