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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yes any property that will host project infrastructure will have a lease or easement agreement and will receive a form of compensation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As noted in the previous comment, agricultural impacts will be assessed in the Article 10 application.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Land is not being re-zoned for commercial because solar energy is permitted within the current land designation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Construction could start as early as 2022 (at the conclusion of permitting) and be operational two years thereafter.
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.
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.
Please refer to the Guide for Intervenor Funding on the Department of Public Service Website.
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 email@example.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.
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 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.
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”.
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.
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.