Livingston County solar project receives final siting permit

Morris Ridge Solar Energy Center is a 177-megawatt solar electric facility coupled with 83-megawatt battery energy storage in the Town of Mount Morris

From News Reports

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Friday announced that the New York State Office of Renewable Energy Siting has issued final siting permits for its first two major solar facilities, Riverhead Solar 2, LLC in Suffolk County and Morris Ridge Solar Energy Center, LLC in Livingston County.

The siting approvals for these two facilities are the fastest in New York State's history, in line with the State's commitment to ensure that its nation-leading pipeline of large-scale renewable energy projects will be permitted in a timely and responsible manner. In addition, ORES continues to see a strong market interest in its new permitting process with a pipeline of 46 permit applications in various stages of review with several more anticipated throughout the rest of the year.

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Riverhead is a 36-megawatt solar electric facility in the Town of Riverhead, Suffolk County. Morris Ridge Solar Energy Center is a 177-megawatt solar electric facility coupled with 83-megawatt battery energy storage in the Town of Mount Morris, Livingston County. Together, these solar facilities are expected to generate enough renewable energy to power more than 46,000 New York homes and reduce carbon emissions by over 208,000 metric tons annually, the equivalent of taking more than 41,000 cars off the road every year.

"As part of our aggressive clean and renewable energy goals, we're committed to protecting New York State from the effects of climate change and helping to ensure renewable energy sources can be built and distributed easily and efficiently," Governor Cuomo said. "New York has long been a national leader on climate change, and with the approval of these two projects, we are taking significant steps toward saving the environment and fostering new jobs and investment to bring our economy back better, stronger and greener from the COVID-19 pandemic."

Under the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act, these approved solar facilities will help the state combat climate change and jumpstart its economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the Act, New York State created the nation's first Office of Renewable Energy Siting to improve and streamline the process for environmentally responsible and cost-effective siting of large-scale renewable energy projects across New York while delivering health, environmental, and economic benefits to local communities.

The announcement demonstrates swift progress under the state's recently expanded Clean Energy Standard and advances Cuomo's goal to obtain 70 percent of the state's electricity from renewable sources by 2030 as mandated in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

The Office's decisions follow a detailed review and robust public participation process to ensure that these solar facilities meet or exceed the requirements of Section 94-c of the Executive Law and its implementing regulations. 

ORES Acting Executive Director Houtan Moaveni said, "In keeping with Governor Cuomo's goal for a clean energy economy, today's decision demonstrates how New York State is working to more quickly advance development of major renewable energy facilities, while also ensuring the protection of the environment and consideration of all pertinent social, economic, and environmental factors in permitting of such facilities with input from local governments and host communities. We look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders as these facilities are constructed."

These projects will create over 430 temporary and full-time jobs and spur over $200 million in private investment to help stimulate the state's economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Local taxing jurisdictions will receive over $20 million in payments in lieu of taxes and other funding over the life of the two projects. Riverhead Solar and Morris Ridge Solar Energy Center paid $213,000 in intervenor funds to enable municipal and community groups to fully participate in the review of the facilities.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "By establishing the Office of Renewable Energy Siting, New York is advancing projects that will help achieve our state's ambitious climate change goals and realize our clean energy future. The Riverhead and Morris Ridge solar projects represent New York's national leadership and commitment to combat climate change by ramping up sustainable sources of renewable energy while growing the state's green economy. Solar electricity and battery storage technology are proven science-based solutions that will reduce harmful emissions while creating thousands of jobs putting New Yorkers to work protecting the planet."