By Gwendolyn Craig
The Adirondack Park Agency is considering becoming an adviser and host of public meetings on solar development.
To date the APA has approved 35 megawatts of commercial solar. Between that and additional pending applications, the agency is on its way to approving half of the electricity needed to supply year-round residents of the park. At the board’s Thursday meeting, Dan Kelleher, special assistant for economic affairs at APA, said that does not include the power needs of local businesses, governments or seasonal residents.
APA board members have asked whether the agency should look at long-range planning for solar, but Kelleher and APA counsel Chris Cooper stressed that the APA has no regulatory authority for where solar projects go. Any regulatory powers would have to be created by the state Legislature, Cooper said. Kelleher said that the agency’s new solar application allows for enough review to “avoid undue adverse impacts to the park’s unique resources.”
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The Office of Renewable Energy Siting, which was established in April 2020, held seven public hearings to discuss solar and wind projects across the state, Kelleher said. The office is in charge of solar projects that are 25 megawatts or larger, though projects 20 megawatts or larger may be opted into the ORES process.
Board member Andrea Hogan said local government officials were “drinking from a fire hose” in 2020, and she didn’t know that many people were following the ORES hearings. Chairman John Ernst said the agency could be helpful in talking to towns that might be in desirable areas for solar. He and other board members also agreed they would like to see a public meeting with ORES and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
Board member Zoe Smith asked if there was anything stopping the APA from developing a solar planning document that wouldn’t be regulatory, but rather include goals for the park, best practices and park planning. Cooper said there was not, though it would require significant staff time. Ernst suggested the board review the APA’s current solar application and NYSERDA’s guidelines to see if the APA could help.
Rob Lore, deputy director of regulatory programs, said the agency issued a notice of incomplete application on Nov. 16 to the owners of Barton Mines whose operations are in Johnsburg and Indian Lake. The company is looking to amend its mining permit, which dates back to the 1970s.
An application for a mining project in Forestport in Oneida County is complete, Lore said, and staff are working with the state Department of Environmental Conservation on how to conduct the review. About a dozen people during the public comment portion of the APA’s meeting spoke against the project, which is near White Lake and a number of seasonal and year-round residences. Several voiced concerns about the impact the quarry could have on their drinking water and enjoyment of their properties.
Keith McKeever, spokesperson for the APA, said applicant Tom Sunderlin had agreed to suspend the regulatory timeframe so that regulators can coordinate a review.
The APA also discussed a large-scale subdivision application, which is online and open for public comment until Dec. 3. APA Executive Director Terry Martino said applicant Eric Stackman will have the opportunity to respond to the public’s feedback on his plans for Jay.
During the public comment period, Dave Gibson, managing partner of Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, said he hoped the agency would learn from its one-and-only project approved under the new subdivision application, a housing development around Woodward Lake in Fulton County. He said that process was inefficient, took 2 ½ years and resulted in nearly the same plan as the original submission. Board member Art Lussi disagreed with Gibson.
This story has been updated to correct an error stating the agency lacked regulatory jurisdiction over solar. The APA does have a solar permit under its jurisdiction.
Skippy D. says
If you Fly Over… these “Solar Farms”
It looks like a plague gobbling up “GreenEarth”…
Another Plague mabe by China….
As All of these “Solar Components ”
Are Made in China….
And 75% of the parts have Petroleum Roots….
(Made out of Petroleum products)
China owns this Country… because it’s rum by a ship of fools.
We have had 5 ice age /tropical cooling/warming periods…
That last roughly 12 thousand years.
We presently are coming Out of a 12 thousand years of Ice age….
Your climate hoax is all contol an redistribution of wealth Period /Fact
David Mason says
It seems the APA sees solar projects as ‘not buildings’. This kind of makes sense but cell towers are not buildings either. Nor are windmills. Nor are power poles and lines. But these are regulated. They are tall, unlike solar, but if solar isn’t a building, how do these other things get defined as buildings?
I’m confused and just curious to understand this.