Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Genesee County:

State officials give go-ahead for $345M Excelsior Solar Farm in Town of Byron


State officials have approved the $345 million Excelsior Solar Farm.

The New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment on Wednesday granted approval to Excelsior Energy Center, LLC to build and operate the 280-megawatt solar farm with 20 MWs of battery storage.

“The Excelsior solar farm and other renewable energy projects built or currently under development are vital to meet the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act’s aggressive carbon reduction and clean energy targets to combat climate change,” said Siting Board Chair Rory M. Christian in a news release. “This solar farm will benefit all New Yorkers by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, boosting clean-energy investment, creating clean-energy jobs, and improving our environment.”

The Genesee County Economic Development Center estimated the cost of the project at $345 million, and said it would create new jobs, provide long-term revenue and economic development to Genesee County and the Town of Byron. According to estimates, the project will provide $117.5 million economic impact, which includes PILOT payments, host benefit payments, fire district payments, elimination of agricultural exemptions on acreage used for solar panels, direct construction payroll, other direct construction related purchases, and payroll and purchases during operations.

Details include:

■ Excelsior is expected to provide $37.4 million in new revenue to the county, town and school district in property tax-type benefits to invest in infrastructure, additional services, and resources for residents.

■ The project will create 290 jobs during construction, three to four full-time positions, and opportunities for landscaping and snow plowing throughout the life of the project. There will be opportunities for local businesses to supply materials to support the construction of the project, and service-industry businesses such as hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues will benefit from an increase in worker activity throughout construction.

■ The project will invest approximately $40.8 million in construction labor, creating employment opportunities for those in the construction trades, including equipment operators, truck drivers, laborers, and electricians.

According to the developer, operation of the facility will result in a reduction of approximately 205,432 tons of CO2 from the New York State power sector in 2023.

The project area is about 3,443 vacant acres, and the project footprint is 1,716 acres. The solar farm is expected to begin commercial operation in late 2022. Through land agreements, the project developer says it supports the agricultural economy by infusing revenue into family farms and diversifying their income. The developer says it will support local farms that employ 70 people in the Town of Byron.

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