A community solar panel farm project is slowly making its way to being approved in the town of Granville.
Proposed for 160 Mineral Way, the two MW AC photovoltaic (PV) community solar farm would take up around 31.8 acres of the 183.1-acre property owned by Mark R. Tatko and Kim Bascom.
The plot chosen is surrounded by the Curtis Lumber store off Route 22, a cell tower, residential housing, woodlands and an abandoned mine. The land now is only used for recreational activities by the landowners.
Both Tatko and Bascom declined to comment.
Granville Town Planning Board chair Todd Smith, in a phone conversation, revealed a slight problem was found causing a bump in the process. The right-of-way near Curtis Lumber isn’t large enough.
“Since the January meeting, they (construction workers and engineers) ran into a problem with the right-of-way,” Smith said. “I believe they are seeking another option off of Route 22… once they have approval it would be instructed throughout the year (2021).”
Smith said the cost would actually be the responsibility of the solar company involved, U.S Light Energy (USLE), as they would be leasing the land from Tatko and Bascom for “at least 25 years.”
“I have just seen the preliminary information on that,” said town supervisor Matt Hicks. “It will be assessed at whatever the value is.”
USLE’s website, uslightenergy.com, provided insight on what community solar energy is and why it’s important:
“Community Solar is a clean renewable energy source. By installing solar panels in a sunny, remote location, individuals and businesses around the community solar farm can ‘subscribe’ to the clean energy it creates and accumulate credits towards the balance on their utility account. You can reduce the cost of your electricity, help put more clean, renewable solar power into our energy supply, and never see a solar panel on your roof,” the website said. “Community Solar power is generated at remote locations so you no longer need to own a home or (be a) property owner to get the benefits of clean, solar energy. Plus – community solar credits can be used to offset your entire electric utility payment.”
Mike Fingar, vice president of USLE in Latham, could not be contacted by press time.
John S. Munsey, the Managing Scientist and Principal of Environmental Services for the engineering company C.T. Male Associates, also based in Latham, wrote a proposal statement that was read at the January planning board meeting.
“An existing road easement will be used to access the area of the PV solar array from Route 22 through an adjacent property to the east as shown on the site plans. The electrical interconnect from the PV solar array is proposed to be an underground line connecting to existing lines along Route 22. The PV solar array will be enclosed by a chain link fence with locking gate. There will be no outdoor lighting,” Munsey wrote to the board.
“The PV solar panels will be rack mounted with a maximum height of approximately 12 feet above the ground surface. The racking system will be supported with piles that will either be driven or screwed in place. The southern edge of the rack will be a minimum of three feet above grade and the northern edge of the rack will be approximately nine feet above grade.
Due to the variation in topography this height could change from rack to rack but should not exceed a maximum of 12 feet above grade.”
Munsey declined to provide further comment.
Smith and Hicks provided two different answers when questioned on the land being proposed. Considering Granville and Washington County are historically known for being agriculturally based, Hicks was worried about the capabilities of the land for agricultural purposes.
“Because it’s an agricultural town and it’s good agricultural property,” Hicks said.
Smith said the opposite, also taking into account the visual aspect will not be a factor with the land creating a “very minimal agricultural impact.”
“This land is not good agricultural land,” Smith said. “This is not going to be a visual issue.”
The only real issue Smith can picture is the weight of the soil. He said the construction process will want to be done during the dry season considering the makeup of the land.
“Soils are heavy and there are some wetlands they’d have to deal with,” Smith said. “The soil in the access zone is heavy.”
Smith and Hicks both agreed that the project could be and would be beneficial to Granville.
“Everyone has an opinion on how solar is going to work, but it works,” Smith said. “It’s here to stay, it’s going to be a part of our community.”
“We’ve seen several (solar farms) proposed in Granville in recent years,” Hicks said. “If it can generate electricity, it’s a good thing.”
The next town planning board meeting was pushed to Tuesday Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. because of inclement weather.