July 5, 2022
Solar projects continue to receive tax breaks in Chautauqua County.
During this past week’s Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency meeting, board members approved Payment In Lieu Of Taxes agreements for two solar projects in Portland and have started investigating another one for Pomfret.
Solar Liberty was approved to construct a 7.52 megawatt solar project that has been divided into two projects. One is 3.6 megawatts and the other is 3.92 megawatts. One will be on Fay Street and the other on Main Street.
Before the vote, Richard Dixon, IDA chief financial officer, noted the Portland Town Board has given its approval.
Nathan Rizzo from Solar Liberty attended the meeting virtually and went over the details. They noted the Main Street project is set back by the railroad tracks. They were able to avoid placing it on loom soil, which is used to grow grapes. “We found some opportune spots that limits the impacts, both from a visual aesthetic perspective from town and it also sets the systems back away from the majority of homes,” he said.
One of the conditions of the project from the town is that a year after it’s completed they must come back to see if additional visual screening is needed.
In its application, Solar Liberty stated that it envisioned more than 50 construction jobs for the project and one part-time permanent position.
It is estimated the project will cost around $7 million to construct.
The county IDA Board of Directors unanimously approved the 25-year tax agreement for the project.
Solar Liberty is also looking to construct a solar project near the intersection of Route 60 and Eagle Street in the town of Pomfret. It would be set back from Route 60 about 200 feet. “We worked with the town of Pomfret to design the system to have limited visual (impact) from the public roadways and also any of the homes,” Nathan Rizzo said.
That area is mostly open land, but he added “the topography lends itself quite well to hiding the majority of the system from public views” so no additional vegetation is planned.
The county IDA voted to approve a due diligence resolution which allows the IDA to begin investigating tax agreements for the project. Board member Dennis Rak abstained.
Final approval for a Payment In Lieu Of Taxes Agreement could come at a future meeting. Attorney Milian Tyler noted the IDA generally won’t finalize tax agreements for any projects that haven’t been given approval from their local town board.