The New York State Board on Generation Siting and the Environment on Aug. 4 said that it has granted approval to Flint Mine Solar, LLC to build and operate a 100-MW solar farm in the towns of Coxsackie and Athens in Greene County, N.Y.
According to the board’s Aug. 4 order granting, with conditions, a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need to Flint Mine, the solar facility will consist of up to 454 acres of photovoltaic (PV) panels, together with associated facilities, located within a 1,638-acre facility area on lands leased from owners of private property located between the New York State Thruway to the west and the CSX Railroad line to the east. Five short 115-kV transmission lines, with a total length of about 500 feet, will connect a proposed 115/34.5-kV facility substation to a proposed 115-kV point of interconnection (POI) switchyard, which will then interconnect to the existing bulk electric transmission system lines owned by Niagara Mohawk Power d/b/a National Grid.
The board added that the facility will connect to the existing LaFarge to Pleasant Valley 115-kV transmission line, and the Feura Bush to North Catskill 115-kV transmission line, both owned and operated by National Grid, allowing power to be delivered from the facility to the grid.
Parties to the proceeding entered settlement negotiations to attempt to resolve disputed issues in the case, the board said, adding that as part of those negotiations, Flint Mine proposed a settlement layout to avoid or mitigate resource impacts of concern to other parties to the case. The settlement negotiations resulted in proposed consensus certificate conditions and a Site Engineering and Environmental Plan (SEEP) Guide that were filed in January. The board added that the settlement proposals were signed by Flint Mine and others, including state Department of Public Service trial staff, and the towns of Athens and Coxsackie.
The project will advance New York’s emissions goals because it is a renewable energy resource, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and help combat the harmful effects of climate change, the board said, adding that no party has introduced evidence through an expert witness disputing such conclusions.
The board also noted that based upon its review of the record, it concludes that any adverse environmental effects to threatened or endangered grassland bird species from the construction and operation of the facility will be minimized or avoided to the maximum extent practicable, and that the facility is designed to operate in compliance with applicable state laws and regulations.
Similarly, the board said that any adverse environmental effects of the construction and operation of the facility related to vegetation, wildlife, and habitat will be minimized or avoided to the maximum extent practicable.
Among other things, the proposed certificate conditions call for Flint Mine to, before beginning construction, request and obtain a water quality certification under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act for areas regulated under federal law, if required. In addition, the filing noted, the certificate will automatically expire in seven years from the date it is issued unless Flint Mine has completed construction and began commercial operation of the facility prior to said expiration date.
According to the board’s statement, construction of the solar farm is expected to take about 18 months.