The New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment on Jan. 7 said that it has granted approval to Hecate Energy Albany 1 LLC and Hecate Energy Albany 2 LLC (referred to by the board as Hecate Energy) to build and operate a 40-MW solar farm in the Town of Coeymans, Albany County.
The facility, which will be located between State Route 9 W and County Route 101, will be built on a portion of about 436 acres of privately leased farmland, the board said.
The facility is expected to annually generate 73,000 MWh of electricity upon commercial operation, the board said, adding that the project’s numerous arrays of ground-mounted photovoltaic solar panels will be connected to the bulk electric transmission system through underground collection lines and will interconnect with the existing National Grid 115-kV Long Lane-Lafarge transmission line at two locations, both located in the southern portion of the project site.
The board also noted that it deemed Hecate Energy’s formal application complaint on Jan. 22, 2020, and that 15 parties to the proceeding included several state agencies, as well as a labor group; the record includes nearly 20 public comments.
As noted in the board’s Jan. 7 order granting a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need, with conditions, the project will require the construction of internal infrastructure, including inverters with integrated transformers within weather-rated enclosures; voltage cable collection systems that will extend underground to aggregate the alternating current output from the inverters; two on-site substations to which the collection system will extend and where the facility’s electrical output will be combined and increased to the transmission line voltage of 115 kV and connected to the existing on-site utility transmission lines via a line tap; permanent gravel access roads; a temporary letdown area for equipment staging during construction; and security fencing.
Among other things, the board discussed environmental impacts, noting that the project facility is located about 2.5 miles from an Indiana bat hibernaculum, which is the winter home for hibernation, with Indiana bats depending upon hibernacula. Potential impacts to Indiana bats that may result from the construction and operation of the facility are either a direct take of individual bats, or a take of occupied habitat, the board said. Based upon the certificate conditions agreed to by the applicant and Department of Environmental Conservation staff, the board said that it concludes that the construction and operation of the facility will comply with certain requirements.
The certificate conditions include that all tree clearing activities within the project site necessary for construction, operation, restoration, or maintenance will be conducted between Nov. 15 and March 31. Another condition calls for all tree clearing activities occurring between one quarter and 2.5 miles of an Indiana bat hibernaculum, the certificate holders are to ensure that tree clearing activities in the project area do not result in the overall forested canopy coverage within the entire 2.5-mile radius around the hibernaculum becoming less than 35%, the board said.
As noted in the order, Hecate Energy Albany 1 and Hecate Energy Albany 2 are wholly owned subsidiaries of Hecate Energy LLC.