FAQ

EDF Renewables


Who is EDF Renewables?

EDF Renewables is a market leading independent power producer and service provider with more than 30 years of experience leading the way to a clean energy future with large-scale projects that put the economy, communities and the environment first.

EDF Renewables has developed, financed, constructed, operates and manages more than 16 gigawatts (the equivalent of 160 million 100-watt light bulbs) of renewable energy projects in North America over the last 30 years. In New York, the company built, owns and operates the 80-megawatt (the equivalent of 800 thousand 100 watt light bulbs) Copenhagen Wind Farm in Lewis County and is currently developing the 177 megawatt (the equivalent of 1.77 million 100 watt light bulbs) Morris Ridge Solar Energy Center in Livingston County, anticipated to be operational by 2023.

Has EDF Renewables created a facility of this size with energy storage?

EDF Renewables completed a number of other large solar electricity generating projects, including the 143 MW Catalina Solar project in California and 137 MW Playa 2 Solar project in Nevada. EDF Renewables is starting construction on projects as large as the 500 MW Palen Solar project in California. EDF Renewables is also committed to building the 200 MW Arrow Canyon Solar project in Nevada that will be completed in 2022 and include a significant energy storage component.

Ridge View Solar


What is Ridge View Solar?

The Ridge View Solar Energy Center is a proposed 350MW solar photovoltaic project that will be sited on approximately 2,000 acres of private land located in the Towns of Hartland and Newfane in Niagara County, New York. The project will generate enough electricity to power 75,000 homes, provide tax and job benefits to the region, and contribute to New York State’s renewable energy targets.

Siting


Why not put the solar project along the existing power line right of way?
The power line right of ways are owned by the utility company and typically need to be clear of development so the lines can be accessed for operation and maintenance. Transmission lines and towers cast shade on the panels which negatively impacts production.
Why are you choosing a cloudy area as your first large project?

The cost of solar energy decreased significantly in the past 10 years. Based on factual solar irradiation information that we’ve gathered, it is now economically viable to generate solar electricity in New York.

I live in the project area. One of my neighbors bought a neighboring property about 2 years ago. I feel he had prior knowledge of this project and bought the property for this sole reason.
We did not start approaching landowners about this opportunity until the spring of 2019, therefore nobody had knowledge of this projects prior to then.
Why is this project being proposed on land that is being used for agriculture?

EDF Renewables recognizes the significant amount of land required to accommodate solar projects and we put a great deal of effort into co- locating various forms of agriculture within our project sites. For example, we have worked to incorporate sheep grazing and foraging of bees, creating critical habitat for the declining bee populations on a 200-acre project in Ontario, Canada. The site yields 300 jars of honey and hosts 300 sheep annually.

We want to engage with farmers in the community to include similar types of agrivoltaics (co-development of solar for electricity and agriculture) at this project.

How is this project viable if there are only 54 full sunny days in our area?

The price for solar energy has decreased significantly in the past 10 years. It is now economical to generate solar energy in New York. Coupled with energy storage, solar is a great way to supply electricity that can offset peak electricity demand on hot sunny days and during the evening.

Hunting


What is the hunting setback around battery modules?

There are no prescribed setbacks from the energy storage or solar facilities. Our facilities are enclosed by a fence and therefore hunting would take place outside of the fenced area of our facilities and respect all local laws and applicable hunting practices.

Will hunters have less land to hunt on, set-backs, and limits on where the discharging of arms may occur?

About 2,000 acres of private property from participating landowners who are hosting project infrastructure and within the fenced area of the facility would be off-limits for hunting. The New York Hunting and Trapping Guide requires certain setbacks (500’ for fire arms, 250’ for crossbows and 150’ for bows) from dwellings, farm buildings or structures in occupation. This could mean some setbacks would be required from some project components like inverters, transformers and energy storage containers that are typically installed well within the project fence. There are no setbacks from solar panels though. Therefore, we anticipate any additional setbacks outside of the project fence occurring and on non-participating lands to be negligible.

Taxes


Will land previously taxed as agriculture will now be taxed as commercial?

Land that is being taxed as agriculture exempt will lose this exemption and be applied a penalty paid by EDF Renewables. Hosting a solar project will not change the zoning designation of host properties or neighboring properties. Ridge View Solar project will not affect the property taxes of neighboring properties.

Properties hosting project components may have an increase in taxes, which will be paid by EDF Renewables.

Can the town of Hartland spend the income from solar payments any way they want or is property tax stabilization written into the town agreements?

Funds that will be contributed to the town of Hartland are typically for the town and its citizens to determine how it will be spent. EDF renewables does not determine how the funds will be spent or allocated.

If you are not someone with panels on your land, the only benefit to the public at large is through tax relief?

Ridge View solar will provide substantial new revenues (anticipated to be more than $1,000,000 per year) paid to the host Town(s), County and associated school districts. The project will also be sited with appropriate visual setbacks and buffering to properly integrate the project in the community.

The town and its citizens would have an opportunity to determine how the funds are appropriated. The land rent paid to landowners is also a significant investment in the community.

More than 300 jobs will be created to build the project over two years and four full time positions will be created during operation. All these new investments will have an appreciable benefit to the community at large.

Why not pay full taxes? A PILOT is a tax break.

PILOTs are negotiated with many other businesses too, not just solar. Ridge View Solar intends to negotiate a PILOT with the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency and Host Community Agreements with the Town of Hartland and the Town of Newfane that would contribute 10 times more revenue to the community than the current taxes paid by the host properties.

This means about $1,000,000 in new revenues paid to the Town(s), County and associated school districts each year.

Will land previously taxed as agriculture will now be taxed as commercial?

Land that is being taxed as agriculture exempt and hosting solar panels will lose their exemption. The property taxes on the properties will increase due to the loss of agriculture exemption which will be paid by EDF renewables. Hosting a solar project will not change the zoning designation of the property as solar is allowed on properties as of right under the zoning code. The solar project will not affect the property taxes of neighboring properties nor increase taxes for anyone in the community. As proposed, the tax revenue generated by the lands hosting the project will increase by about ten fold compared to agricultural exempt. This additional revenue for the Town, County and School Districts will be paid by EDF Renewables.

Who makes up for lost taxes?

There are no “lost” taxes associated with the project. The project will provide around $1,000,000 in new revenues to the Town of Newfane, the Town of Hartland, Niagara County and host school districts every year. There will only be 4 full time employees working at this facility during operation, which means there will be few to no new students in the local schools, and few to no new homes built to accommodate project staff. The revenues generated by the project are net new revenues that can be spent on infrastructure, services or lowering taxes.

Land/Farm


Do you pay landowners for right of ways (transmission lines, access roads, under or over ground cables)?

Yes any property that will host project infrastructure will have a lease or easement agreement and will receive a form of compensation.

Do local residents have any way to stop expansion to properties next to them?

The project requires landowners to sign lease or easement agreements to install project related components on a property. We are sensitive to our project neighbors, and want to meet with them, discuss appropriate setbacks, visual buffering and other interests. According to studies, there are no impacts to property values neighboring solar projects.

Why do you lease vs buying property for building the system?
EDF Renewables is not a real estate company and prefers to lease properties because it is important to keep ownership of the properties in the local community. That way, when the leases expire, local people have the opportunity to determine what happens to the properties. A benefit of solar energy leases is that the landowners make a steady revenue stream for many decades while the project is in operation.
How will farmland be protected?

The project must follow strict guidelines by the Department of Agriculture and Markets during construction and decommissioning to protect topsoil and repair soil compaction. As part of decommissioning, the land can be returned to farming and the soil could benefit from grazing by sheep or other uses during the project operating life.

Solar panels are used to convert sunlight to a usable source of electricity, much like plants convert sunlight to crops for energy. Just like farms produce corn, soy, grains, milk and meat that are sold to urban and rural markets, the electricity produced by the solar project supplies the same urban and rural markets.

EDF Renewables successfully integrated 300 sheep on a 200 acre solar project in Ontario Canada. The farmers will be able to sell free range grass fed lamb on the market as a result.

A video about solar grazing produced by EnterSolar, an affiliate of EDF Renewables is available here. A second video about solar grazing, by Farm Credit East, is available here.

Sheep farming is not really a profitable business in this area. Who controls the weeds and brush in the area?

We are sensitive to the use of agricultural land and are continually trying to find ways to incorporate agriculture with solar. One such way is by grazing sheep among the solar panels to control vegetation. We usually pay a business to provide vegetation management services which can include mechanical mowing, but we love the idea of sheep grazing in lieu of mechanical mowing as much as possible.

Typically the way this works is we sign an agreement and pay the business or farmer to maintain the vegetation by using sheep and/or mechanical mowing.

How come you don’t have to do an agricultural impact study?

The Article 10 review process and the application will assess impacts of the Project on agricultural lands and, depending on comments received during the scoping phase of the process, may include a specific agricultural impact study.

Why do you not have to file and agricultural impact statement?

As noted in the previous comment, agricultural impacts will be assessed in the Article 10 application.

Is it true that the project will take away 27% of the farmland in Hartland/Newfane and result in a 3,000 acre loss?

The project is being proposed on 2,000 acres of land in the towns of Hartland and Newfane. The Niagara County Agricultural and Farmland protection plan indicates there are 14,279 acres of farmland in Newfane and 10,666 acres of farmland in Hartland. Based on this, if the entire project was located in the Town of Hartland, it would displace about 18% of farmland. If sited in both Hartland and Newfane, 8% of farmland would be displaced. Our aim is to co-locate agriculture, like pollinators and grazers around our solar panels to help offset this. Source: Niagara County Agricultural & Farmland Protection Plan September 2018.

Environment


How does moving to renewables (solar) help rural communities protect themselves from climate change?

Solar is an integral part of a cleaner, less carbon emitting electricity system. Any carbon that can be mitigated has a direct positive impact on overall climate change. A project like Ridge View solar can offset the burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity and generate positive change in the face of climate change. Ridge View Solar project is anticipated to avoid more than 404,000 metric tons of CO₂ emissions annually which represents the greenhouse gas emissions from 85,700 passenger vehicles driven over the course of one year.

Are you clear cutting wooded lots to host the project?

Project components are intended to be sited to the greatest extent possible on lands that are already cleared. However, depending on the land participating in the project there might be some infrastructure sited within areas that are currently wooded.

How many greenhouse gasses will we be able to avoid with this project?
The expected electricity generated in one year is enough to meet the consumption of up to 75,000 average homes. This is equivalent to avoiding more than 404,000 metric tons of CO₂ emissions annually which represents the greenhouse gas emissions from 85,700 passenger vehicles driven over the course of one year.
What are long-term studies showing on contamination? How old is your oldest solar farm?

The material that makes up the solar panels is contained within the panels themselves. Therefore, there have not been any environmental contaminant studies conducted on these projects as it is not warranted.

Our oldest large utility scale solar facility is 10 years old and it continues to be in operation and is still owned by EDF Renewables. The same solar panels that were installed 10 years ago are still producing electricity on site.

This site is still very much sustainable and hosts more than 300 sheep grazing vegetation among the solar panels and bee hives that produce 300 x 16 oz jars of honey annually.

Is there chemical contamination associated with recycling and decommissioning of materials?

The vast majority of solar panels, including those proposed for Ridge View solar, are classified as non-toxic waste and accepted at ordinary landfills. Solar panels undergo a “Toxic Characteristic Leaching Procedure” test mandated by the Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. These tests are used to confirm their toxicity. Click here to know more.
Further, there are no anticipated emissions to the ground, air or water as a result of the operation of solar panels. As no soil contamination is anticipated, the land can be safely utilized for grazing during operation or farming after site decommissioning.

Will the ecosystem be greatly disturbed? Will threats of Lyme disease and rabies increase?

Ridge View Solar will undergo a thorough environmental review process that will include a variety of ecological studies, and input from the local community and agencies like the Department of Environmental Conservation, to assure that impacts on vegetation and wildlife are avoided or minimized. We are unaware of any evidence supporting the statement about the potential increased risk of Lyme disease or rabies as a result of the development of a solar project.
Solar facilities are naturally vegetated and pollinators like bees and butterflies are proven to thrive within the project footprint. For example, more than 300 sheep graze the vegetation under solar panels and bees make 300 jars of honey per year within one of our 200 acre solar sites. A variety of birds also nest among and in the racking under the panels.

Will wetland laws be followed?

Wetland laws need to be followed as part of project permitting.

Eminent Domain


Is eminent domain used to take properties or right of ways?

EDF Renewables does not have access to eminent domain. All the properties that will host the facility will be signed up to lease or easement agreements mutually agreed to between EDF Renewables and landowners.

What if after the facility is up and running, Cuomo uses eminent domain to take over land

What if after the facility is up and running, Cuomo uses eminent domain to take over land The Project Sponsor does not have the authority to take land via eminent domain. Moreover, we are not aware of any plans or proposals by the State of New York involving renewable energy power generation projects and eminent domain.

Is it true that after a certain amount of time, the state or federal government will step in and take the land that we’ve leased for the solar facility, and say it is a state or federal utility?

EDF plans to own and operate the facility and pay its landowners for the life of the facility, which we anticipate to be 30 to 40 years. We are not aware of any situation where the State has exercised eminent domain and paid compensation for the taking of a privately developed and funded enterprise some years into the life of the facility. Therefore, we do not believe any rumors of this kind to be credible.

Power


Where is power generated by the project going?

The vast majority of the energy generated will be consumed locally (in Buffalo and Rochester and in the towns in between). Most of the remainder will be consumed upstate and a small percentage will be delivered to New York City.

Much like the dairy, corn, grains, and vegetables produced locally feeds both rural and urban centers, so does the electricity we will generate.

How are you connecting to the grid?
We need to build a substation that collects all of the electricity generated from the solar panels and increase the voltage for injection onto the 345kv transmission lines. That substation would be located on leased property adjacent to the exiting transmission line originating from the Somerset coal facility.
If this is another way to deliver electricity downstate, why impact my neighborhood. Why not make this work downstate?

100% of the energy generated will be delivered to the pool that supplies all New York consumers via the transmission grid. The vast majority of the energy generated will be consumed locally (in Buffalo and Rochester and in the towns in between). Most of the remainder will be consumed upstate and a small percentage will be delivered to New York City. Much like the dairy, corn, grains, and vegetables produced locally feeds both rural and urban centers, so does the electricity we will generate.

The town of Hartland hosts a 345kV transmission line that is required for hosting a facility of this type.

Ridge View Solar project will contribute significant benefits to the community like guaranteed long term revenues to farms and landowners and contribute about 10 times more revenue to the Town(s), County and school district(s) than the current land use.

Studies indicate that there is no reduction in land values for properties neighboring a solar facility.

Solar farm is paid for with our tax dollars to make electricity that we don’t need. Then NY State has promised to buy this unnecessary power. Won't that increase our utility costs to cover this, just like the most recent rate hike?

No tax dollars are being paid to the project to build the project. The project only gets paid as electricity is sold to the grid. Renewable energy generation, including solar is necessary in New York state to meet targets to generate 70% of New York’s electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030.

The cost of solar electricity has decreased substantially in the past 10 years and it is now economically feasible in New York.

How does solar compare to natural gas, coal, nuclear in relation to emissions/pollution?
Solar energy does not produce any greenhouse gases during the operation of the facility. Overall manufacturing through to decommissioning, the carbon footprint of a solar is about one tenth of coal and one fifth of natural gas.
Will we be able to chose you guys as our energy suppliers?

At this point in time, the electricity generated by the project would be sold to the merchant market and not available for direct purchase from persons or businesses in the local community. However, it may be possible to aggregate electricity customers in the area or negotiate offtake agreements with businesses to sell the electricity and or renewable energy credits directly to them.

Ridge View solar project can supply enough electricity to meet the demands of about 80,000 homes, and therefore would require agreements with a significant number of homes or one or more businesses using significant electricity.

Is excess energy transferred to the grid or stored on site?
We are not committed to energy storage at this point in time. It is something that the team is still evaluating. For transparency, we are permitting the project as if it will include an energy storage component. If the project does include energy storage, the excess energy produced will be stored on site and injected to the grid when needed (includes in the evening or at night when there is no sun). Otherwise, excess electricity, if available, is not produced onto the grid.
Does the power from this project go to New York City?

Based on our knowledge of the power flow in the area, the electricity would be consumed in the area between Buffalo and Rochester. Some of the power could end up in New York City or anywhere else in the New York Independent Systems Operator control area, just like the agricultural products that are currently farmed in the area feed people all over New York.

Noise


Do the panels make noise?
No, the solar panels do not make noise. Some of the facility components such as inverters and transformers do make noise but that equipment is sited with appropriate setbacks from neighboring homes so that the sound observed would be no louder than that of a quiet room.
How much noise will be heard at neighboring homes?

Some solar equipment like inverters and transformers can generate noise while they are in operation, sometimes in the range of 80 decibels at a distance of 3 ft, which is similar to a vacuum cleaner or lawn mower.  However, solar projects like this one are regulated by the Article 10 and/or Section 94-C permitting processes, and must meet strict rules for sound levels propagated to neighboring homes.  As the project becomes more mature, maps would be created to show the public the level of sound generated from the facility, and contour plots showing the sound propagating off-site and to neighboring homes.  To obtain permits for construction, a reduction of sound to that similar to a quiet room (in the range of 40 decibels), adjacent to neighboring homes, must be demonstrated.  This is generally achieved through equipment setbacks, for example inverters and transformers are installed hundreds of feet away from homes.

Decommissioning


What is decommissioning and who will pay for it?

Decommissioning is the process of removing equipment (solar panels, inverters, transformers) and improvements (roads and fences) and returning the land to its prior use when a solar facility is at its end of life. This is paid for by the project owner, and not the landowner or municipality.

To ensure these activities are planned for and funded, the project will post a security, sometimes in the form of a letter of credit, to cover the cost to decommission the facility. This security is required by New York State and is posted before operations begin.

The project cannot receive permission to operate without this commitment to cover decommissioning costs.

If project land was previously used for agriculture, any topsoil that was removed or disturbed during the construction, operation or decommissioning of the solar facility will be replaced so the land can be returned to farming.

What happens to solar panels at the end of life?
The disposal of solar panels in New York must conform to all governmental, environmental, and legal requirements. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) established a national recycling program connecting US-based recyclers with business who have solar panels to recycle. Many components of crystalline silicon panels can be reused and recycled, namely the metal, glass and wiring components, as well as the silicon cells which can be melted down to reclaim the silicon and various metals by specialty recycling companies. The Solar Panel Collection Act- Senate Bill S942, is currently being drafted and reviewed by the New York Senate Environmental Conservation Committee. This legislation will require solar panel manufacturers to collect their solar panels once they are taken out of use and impose restrictions on how the panels can be disposed.
If EDF goes bust, and there is not enough money to decommission do the property owners have to pay to remove panels?

EDF Renewables is obligated to provide a decommissioning security prior to the start of operation in favor of the host town(s) that provides the town(s) with the necessary funds to decommission the facility in the event that the project owner is not able to. These funds will be available even if the project owner does not have funds at that time.

Decommissioning means the removal of all equipment and restoration of the land.

Jobs


Where is labor force coming from?

During the development process, people are employed conducting site surveys, permitting, community engagement, land acquisition and many more activities. We have hired a number of consultants within Western New York area to help with these tasks.

Construction is anticipated to take two years, and at its peak, require more than three hundred workers. It is anticipated that a significant component of the labor force will be sourced from Western New York. Part of our four person operations team is anticipated to be staffed locally provided that candidates for the position are available.

Zoning


Why is land not being re-zoned for commercial?

Land is not being re-zoned for commercial because solar energy is permitted within the current land designation.

Will re-zoning of areas be required, including rezoning of non-panel properties?

There will be no rezoning required as part of the project. It is not necessary for this type of development as it is allowed under the current zoning. The zoning of neighboring properties will not change because of the project.

Safety


Are solar panels safe?

Crystalline silicon panels that are manufactured using safe and non-toxic materials are proposed for this project. These modules are comprised of silicon, copper and aluminum, sandwiched between glass and a plastic encapsulant with an aluminum frame. These types of solar panels do not contain toxic materials and are the same type that are commonly installed on rooftops and schools.

How can I trust that energy storage systems are going to be safe?

The 2019 Energy Storage System Supplement was added to the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building code, establishing new provisions that must be followed when energy storage systems are installed in New York. According to the notice posted to the New York State Register October 16, 2019, “these new provisions will require extra protective measures in all cases where [energy storage systems] are used; require extra protective measures based on the location of the installation; and otherwise enhance the level of protection to all people of the State from the potential hazard of fires caused by the installation and use of [energy storage systems]”. Source

Training for local resources is available from NYSERDA upon request. With proper training, incidents involving energy storage systems can be addressed by local emergency response personnel.

Can lithium ion leak into the soil from one of our energy storage containers?

Lithium batteries don’t have ‘liquids’ in them, per se. They do have a kind of paste that’s wrapped up tightly within the cells, but any “leaking” would only occur under failure conditions and would be highly unlikely to be significant enough in volume to penetrate module casings, containers, and foundations to seep into the soil. In a failure event that escalates, it is far more likely that the product of the failure will be gases, not liquids.

The failure condition that is noted above is very unlikely, especially with new codes and standards that require protective measures that keep evolving to safeguard equipment, personnel and the public, as illustrated in the video mentioned above.

In the event there is a fire, is the fire department going to be able to get in these fenced areas immediately?

All of our facilities will include Knox boxes and local first responders will have keys to enter the facility. Depending on the agreement with first responders and their comfort with the facility, they will either a) wait for operations personnel to arrive before entering the facility or b) notify EDF Renewables and enter the facility prior to the arrival of Operations & Maintenance personnel.

A local crew of 4 or more persons would operate and maintain the facility, therefore there would be staff living near the project.

Placards around the facility will provide a number to call our operations and maintenance control center, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and speak to a live person.

Can solar panels catch fire?

Solar panels rarely catch fire and are not combustible. In the unlikely event of a fire within a solar panel, it would smoulder and not likely spread.

During the permitting process and prior to the start of construction, the project team will meet with local EMS officials to confirm the appropriate training and response protocols to be followed. A Health and Safety Plan, Site Security Plan and Emergency Action Plan will be prepared as part of the permitting process and will be reviewed with local EMS officials prior to the start of construction.

Why should we be the next love canal?

This project, or any solar and energy storage project, will not release contaminants into the surrounding environment. The solar panels are manufactured using safe and non-toxic materials and will not contaminate the land hosting them.

In fact, projects like this one often host sheep grazing and bees foraging the vegetation among the solar panels.

Can you show us human health studies for folks living around such a large solar power plant?

There have been no scientific research studies on people living in proximity to solar farms. This is because there are no contaminants emitted from solar projects. Any of the material in the solar panels is contained within the panels themselves and does not leach to the environment. The collector lines (low voltage) and power lines associated with solar projects are no different that those we have in our existing environment and do not pose a health threat to those living nearby.

What are long-term studies showing on contamination? How old is your oldest solar farm?

Our oldest large utility scale solar facility is 10 years old and was put into operation at the end of 2009. it continues to be in operation and is still owned by EDF Renewables. The same solar panels that were installed 10 years ago are still producing electricity on site.

The material that makes up the solar panels is contained within the panels themselves. Therefore, there have not been any environmental contaminant studies conducted on these projects as it is not warranted.

Will lithium ion batteries potentially be a serious hazard?

Energy storage systems like the one we are proposing are safe and use the same type of batteries as those safely used for years in mobile phones and electric cars. The energy storage system is yet to be designed, and further the project might not include energy storage at all. EDF Renewables is committed to informing the community as the design of the project evolves.
EDF Renewables has an operation control center that monitors our facilities 24 hours a day / 365 days a year and would be able to detect and/or dispatch the team to proactively address any situation before it escalates.
EDF Renewables held a meeting in February 2020 attended by 40 first responders and public officials from the surrounding communities. EDF Renewables had three energy storage experts involved in energy storage safety and testing from DNV GL (an international consulting firm involved in energy storage testing and safety) and ESRG (a consulting firm of energy storage experts and former first responders involved in energy storage testing and safety). Both DNV GL and ESRG were available to discuss energy storage safety and answer questions.
According to both DNV GL and ESRG, batteries themselves do not explode. In extremely rare situations, they can catch fire and burn. If they do, the resulting fire is similar to a plastics fire and can be safely addressed through ordinary emergency response techniques. An energy storage incident would not typically create an evacuation zone. In most circumstances, there would be safe dispersion of smoke within the first 50-100 ft of the energy storage fire.
The best way to put out battery fires is to use water, but they can also be left to safely burn on their own.
During the meeting with first responders, our experts communicated that additional equipment is not needed to respond to energy storage incidents. EDFR will be providing air quality testing equipment and thermal imaging cameras to measure the temperature of the batteries to first responders at EDF Renewables’ cost. In the rare instance a fire should occur, this equipment aids in the assessment of the site to ensure safety of the community. EDF Renewables is committed to providing training annually with the local first responders to ensure first responders and EDF Renewables staff are able to respond safely and effectively, should the need arise.

Will hazmat be needed for our towns? Will this lead to huge costs?

No investment in hazmat is required Air quality meters and thermal imaging cameras will be provided to first responders by EDF Renewables at no cost to monitor the air quality around the batteries and the temperature of the batteries. Otherwise, no additional equipment is necessary for first responders.

Is there a higher potential for wildland fires with rapid spread to adjacent lands since they can’t be extinguished till the fire department arrives and power project system is de-energized?

We are unaware of any instance where a fire was spread as a result of a solar facility and caused a wildland fire. Sites can be de-energized remotely by our operation control center actively monitoring the site 24x7. Additionally, first responders will have emergency access to the site, should it be required. We anticipate having at least four full time employees working locally to operate and maintain the site. Annual training will be provided to employees and local first responders to ensure that in the unlikely event of an incident, first responders and EDF Renewables staff will be capable of responding safely and effectively.

Will the town have to put in place an evacuation plan?

An evacuation plan is not usually necessary for energy storage systems. In the unlikely event of an energy storage fire, first responders will assess the situation and the air space surrounding the fire and respond accordingly. Any smoke or plume normally dissipates rapidly in the air and should not create a safety issue off-site. Therefore, evacuations are unlikely to be required.

Will the town need to create evacuation plans for the town and school?

An evacuation plan is not usually necessary for energy storage systems. In the unlikely event of an energy storage fire, first responders will assess the situation and the air space surrounding the fire and respond accordingly. Any smoke or plume normally dissipates rapidly in the air and should not create a safety issue off-site. Therefore, evacuations are unlikely to be required.

Property Values


What happens to neighboring property values?

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has examined property values across the United States. Their studies demonstrate large-scale solar arrays often have no measurable impact on the value of adjacent properties and in some cases may even have positive effects.

Furthermore, the proximity to solar farms does not deter the sales of agricultural or residential land. Large solar projects have similar characteristics to a greenhouse or single-story residence and the integration of visual buffers, such as natural vegetation, trees, and green fences lessen the visual impact of the project from neighboring homes and roads.

Read the full SEIA fact sheet here.

Schedule


What is the anticipated project timeline?

Ridge View Solar Energy Center must complete a thorough permitting process that takes a minimum of three years to complete with multiple opportunities for input from all stakeholders.

The project would not be able to start construction before 2023. Construction would last 2 years and the operation phase is intended to last 30-40 years after which time the project would be decommissioned and the land returned to its previous use, including farming.

When will construction start, if the project does go forward?

Construction could start as early as 2022 (at the conclusion of permitting) and be operational two years thereafter.

Benefits


How many jobs would be created?

More than 300 jobs will be created during construction (expected to last two years) as well as four full time positions during operation, fostering significant long-term job growth along with other projects across the state within the renewable energy sector.

Businesses that benefit from labor, services and material supply before, during and after construction include environmental consulting, project and construction management, surveying, geotech, construction services, equipment rental, landscaping, maintenance, and hospitality to name a few.

What community benefits are proposed if the project goes forward?

Ridge View Solar project is proposed on 2,000 acres of land. Revenues to the Town of Hartland, Town of Newfane, Niagara County and associated school districts would be about ten times higher than the current tax contributions on those lands.

Taking into account a 2% annual increase, this represents $32 million in new revenues to the host Towns, County and associated school districts over the first 25 years of operation. When landowner payments are added, the contributions to the community are more than $110 million over the same 25 year period. These are all dollars that will be partially reinvested into the community, and do not include paid salaries or locally sourced material, service or equipment supplies. Additional benefits are possible from co-locating farming like sheep grazing and foraging of bees within the solar footprint.

How can Hartland and Newfane residents win for hosting this this project?

Many Hartland residents and landowners feel this is a winning opportunity. EDF Renewables is committed to integrating a responsibly sited solar project that will create more than 300 construction jobs, integrate agricultural activities within the project area, and contribute significant new investments to the community. Annual community investments include millions of dollars of stable income for landowners that can be reinvested in the community, and a million dollars in new revenues for the Town of Hartland, the Town of Newfane, Niagara County and host School Districts.

What benefits will Ridge View Solar provide when the Project is built?

Ridge View Solar will provide benefits to both the local community and New York State during its construction and operation. The PILOT and Host Community Agreements are anticipated to contribute more than $1,000,000 in new annual revenues to Niagara County, the Town of Hartland, the Town of Newfane (if project components are sited in Newfane) Barker Central School District, Royalton-Hartland Central School District and Newfane Central School District (if project components are sited in Newfane). This would be roughly 10-15 times more revenues than the taxes currently being paid by the land used for the project.  More than 300 jobs will be created during construction (expected to last one to two years) as well as four full time positions during operation, fostering significant long-term job growth locally along with other projects across the state within the renewable energy sector. Businesses that benefit from labor, services and material supply before, during and after construction include environmental consulting, project and construction management, surveying, geotechnical, construction services, equipment rental, landscaping, maintenance, and hospitality to name a few. Additional job opportunities are possible by integrating agricultural activities within the site, such as grazing sheep and foraging bees. On a state level, Ridge View Solar supports the State’s enacted historic climate legislation which mandates 70% of the State’s electricity come from renewable energy by 2030 and 100% emissions-free electricity by 2040.

What support will it obtain?

Similar to any other electricity generator in New York State (i.e. natural gas), there is an exemption on the payment of sales tax for certain equipment purchased used to generate electricity.  For solar, this includes all components from the solar panels to the inverters.  Another available option is negotiating a PILOT agreement with Niagara County IDA that includes an exemption for all equipment and materials needed for the construction of the project.  These exemptions are meant to encourage the development of renewable energy projects, which are a public necessity and contribute new revenues to local economies. Ridge View Solar will also generate renewable energy credits, which can be sold as they are generated, just like any other renewable energy generator. At the Federal level, there are several mechanisms in place to help stimulate renewable energy development, including the modified accelerated cost recovery system (MACRS), which is a way for assets to be depreciated in a manner that reduces income taxes.  MACRS is also applied to other assets and businesses including computer equipment, farm buildings, racehorses, and so on.  Another mechanism is the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), a federal tax credit claimed against the tax liability of utility investors in solar energy property.  Ridge View Solar is not expected to receive any cash subsidy during construction or operation.

Community Engagement


How does one apply to obtain intervenor funding?

Please refer to the Guide for Intervenor Funding on the Department of Public Service Website.

How does EDF Renewables plan to engage the local community to communicate the project and obtain feedback?

EDF Renewables is committed to a thorough engagement process. The project development team has been in contact with officials from the towns of Hartland and Newfane since the spring of 2019. In August 2019, a first public meeting that was published in local newspapers was held and attended by more than 60 people. A second public meeting was held in November 2019 and attended by 150 people. The permitting process for this project will take until 2022 to complete and there are numerous opportunities for public involvement throughout the process.

Members of the public can share feedback with the project team or ask questions at any time by dialing 833-333-7369, emailing newyorksolar@edf-re.com. Our team is also available to meet with individuals and local organizations who have questions or need more information. Informational boards from the August 2019 and November 2019 public meetings can be found in the resources section and a copy of the Public Involvement Program plan is available here. Additional public meetings will be held at a future date.

Visual Buffering


I heard about visual buffering. What does that mean?

EDF Renewables is sensitive to designing a project that is well received by the community and can be well integrated into the area. Features such as visual buffers typically created by planting vegetation along roadsides and adjacent to neighboring homes near the project help soften the visual impact of the facility and maintain the rural character of the area.

Energy Storage


Why is energy storage being proposed as part of this project?

Energy storage systems are becoming an integral part of a clean electricity system of the future. An integrated energy storage system would allow us to store electricity during the day to produce onto the grid when the sun is not shining and increase the reliability of the facility to better meet New York’s electricity needs. New York State mandated the installation of 3,000 MW of energy storage systems by 2030 through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act that was signed into law in July 2019.

Should I be worried about energy storage systems being located in my community?

Energy storage systems can be safely integrated into your community. According to a publication by experts who study and provide testing of energy storage systems, “working at or living near an energy storage system is less risky than driving a car 10 hours per week, smoking, or working in industries such as construction, mining, or agriculture”.

Reference: https://www.dnvgl.com/publications/quantitative-risk-analysis-for-battery-energy-storage-sites-154811

Ridge View Solar project may or may not include energy storage systems. That will be determined at a later date, but for transparency, we are proceeding as if the project will include energy storage.

Watch this short video about energy storage

In regards to battery fires would there be a specific need for a hazmat response?

No, if a fire were to occur it is similar to a large plastics fire. TO prevent thermal runaway each container has a self-monitored fire suppression system. If a thermal event is detected the suppression system should extinguish the fire. The fire department shall be notified to be on standby at the site. The fire department would serve as fire containment i.e.. keeping the battery enclosure contained by spraying water. The EDF Emergency response program will provide all possible scenarios and the proper responses that could ever possibly occur within confines of the sites.

Who pays for fire department training?

Owner would pick up any costs associated with this.

In case of battery fires, is the smoke runoff cause adjacent farm lands to be poisoned for growing?

In the unlikely event of a battery fire EDF will have a number of emergency response procedures in place and work with local fire department to contain the event. Given the relatively low magnitude of smoke, the short burn time and that it will be diluted in the air it is not expected that levels of chemicals in the smoke deposited on to the ground will impact either the participating landowner or adjacent farm fields.

What type of batteries are being proposed, if energy storage is part of the project?

Different chemistries of lithium ion type batteries are being considered, including some that do not contain cobalt.  This project is still years away from construction and the battery technology continues to evolve.  In general, these are the same types of batteries that area in mobile devices, rechargeable batteries for toys, and electric cars.

Other


If this is such a good thing for the community, why would you have to throw millions of dollars to the politicians and landowners to pass it through?

We are not paying millions of dollars to landowners or politicians to pass this through. As any other person or business using land, we are paying rent to landowners hosting the facility and we are providing new revenues to the Town(s), County and school districts. We are following permitting processes that will ensure the project is sustainable and safeguards community interests.

How does a first responder turn the power off to protect themselves?

The site management team would be responsible for shutting down the power. This would be done through our 24/7 Operational Control Center or through the Off-taker.

Are security cameras placed around panels monitoring only them or are some adjacent properties going to be under surveillance?

The surveillance cameras that would be stationed near facility access points are only intended to monitor the facility entry points and the facility itself. Never used to monitor adjacent lands or neighbors.

With technology changing so rapidly, won’t these panels and batteries become obsolete, meaning replacement and higher electric costs for all? Or, will the local utility look to other sources or methods of power generation that are much cheaper?

Once the solar panels are installed, they are intended to produce electricity for 30-40 years. Much of the world is turning to renewable energy, including solar energy. There are benefits created by replacing fossil fuel generation with renewable energy. For example, “analysis from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, both affiliates of the U.S. Department of Energy, estimates the health-related air quality benefits to the southeast region from solar PV generators to be worth 8.0 cents per kilowatt-hour of solar generation”.

Isn’t EDF Renewables a French company with panels and batteries being made in China?

EDF Renewables has a North American headquarters in San Diego, California and many offices throughout North America. Actively operating in North America for more than 35 years, more than 1,100 people are now employed by EDF Renewables in North America. EDF Renewables put online 973 megawatts of new projects in 2019 able to power more than 230,000 homes.
Projects of this nature source reliable parts and materials from industry leading manufacturers. In most cases those manufacturers are located offshore, however we constantly evaluate suppliers both locally and internationally to ensure safe and reliable renewable power is delivered to NY state rate payers.

Is it true that EDF will make at least $200 million on this project?

EDF Renewables anticipates this project will cost $400 million with an assumed operational life of more than 30 years. It will take at least 10-20 years to pay for the project capital costs. As with any form of generation (gas, coal, nuclear, renewables), they are constructed with a long operational life. Operating for a longer time lowers the electricity costs.