Town of Tyre residents- May 14, 2021
On April 28, 2021, Delaware River Solar (DRS) approached the Town to present an introduction and conceptual plan to build a 1,600 acre solar farm in the Town of Tyre.
You may be aware that on the Seneca Falls, NY side of NYS Rt. 318, there is currently a solar farm under construction there in our neighboring town. This letter is to inform you of a proposal here in the Town of Tyre.
At the point of this writing, the developers have notified the Town that they have secured a total of 932 acres through land leases with 4 property owners in Tyre. Their intention is to secure another 668 acres, through landowner leases. DRS indicated that their specific target area is Gravel Road and its vicinity. As can be seen below, we have included a map which was given to the Town by the developer, outlining the projected area.
Key: Potential area for development (yellow), Land under site control (blue), Transmission line (red)
*THE SENECA FALLS SOLAR FARM ON RT. 318 IS NOT IDENTIFIED ON THIS MAP*
Please note that New York State has enacted a new procedure for these large scale solar farms to obtain permits for their plans and construction. On April 03, 2020, NYS passed the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act. Governor Cuomo has pursued his initiative of fast tracking this permitting process with a board he has developed entitled the “Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES)”. Accordingly, ORES was developed in keeping with the Governors “nation-leading clean energy and climate goals”, including his directive to obtain 70% of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030. This process is seen as, “the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy”, according to the Governor’s September 16, 2020 announcement to combat climate change.
This NYS ORES board was created for large scale energy projects (over 25 megawatts) to review the developers plans and to fast track the permit process at the state level. This board is described as follows, “The new siting process provides a one-stop process with increased certainty and predictability to develop renewable energy projects in New York State. The ORES approach proactively addresses the key recurring issues in siting and permitting large-scale renewable projects, effectively de-risking the permitting process”. This was cited in the announcement of Governor Cuomo’s regulations for ORES.
This process previously rested with the localities for the developers to obtain approval or not through the Town and/or Planning Boards. This is a challenging situation for localities due to this new law having been passed. As is being witnessed in various upstate New York municipalities, such as Conquest, NY for example, this new process has been problematic for Towns to attempt and intervene to save their farmlands. In Conquest, NY, the solar farm proposal is for 2,000 acres in a Town with a population not unlike the size of Tyre.
As can be seen throughout Seneca County, there have been several landowners who have leased their lands to different solar companies to build these projects. Fayette, Waterloo, Seneca Falls, are just some of the Towns in our immediate area contending with these projects. Landowners are being offered significant sums of money by these companies to quit farming and turn their properties into solar farms. It has come to our attention that some of these property owners are deciding that the land lease is a better financial proposition than continued farming, or in other cases, business owners are leasing their land as well to the solar companies. Please understand that we do not oppose renewable energy. However, farmland is a very valuable asset. In the end, the decision to forever eliminate this farmland may very well affect all of us with food shortages, skyrocketing food prices, and a lessoned sense of self responsibility in growing, tending to, and keeping our food local. These are difficult decisions for all involved and the homeowners that are surrounding these solar farms will surely be impacted with newfound challenges from potential property values being decreased and quality of life issues as they look out of their windows and no longer see fields of growing crops but instead view fields of solar panels, transforming our landscape forevermore.
Please know that your Town is working diligently to request assistance from Senator Helming and Assemblyman Gallahan to protect the interests of our residents. We continue to ask questions and explore our options. The Town has also secured an environmental attorney to assist in this matter and guide us through this process. Costs for the bulk of these professional services are to be reimbursed by the developer.
DRS has advised the Town that this 1600 acre project in Tyre is their largest project to date. Many questions were asked of the developer during their initial presentation. At this point in time, we have not received many answers to our various questions. DRS was asked to change the name of their project by removing the word “Tyre” from their proposed “Tyre Solar Energy Center” project. They have agreed to do so per our request. We have not been informed as to the new name for this proposed project as of yet.
The Town will be having ongoing discussions with various stakeholders in this process to ascertain the Town’s role in this newly enacted procedure at the state level, considering this new ORES board in Albany, NY is now reviewing all municipal projects larger than 25 megawatts, instead of the local municipalities through their elected boards.
Although the Town has previously enacted a solar law that limits the amount of acreage of large scale solar farms, it is our understanding that the Town will not have the final say in granting permissions to build. That decision will be granted by Governor Cuomo’s ORES board.
It is my intention to INFORM THE RESIDENTS OF TYRE of this massive project. We continue to hold our Town Board meetings in person. I invite all interested parties to have a voice in this matter, and we will take every opportunity to forward our concerns to Albany. I ask for your help and support in this endeavor to work together as a community for the best interests of everyone in our Town.
Please keep abreast of our website tyreny.com for updates on this matter.
Ronald F. McGreevy