Letters from the Community
Solar Installation Concerns -Jon Davis
Solar Installation Concerns, 9 Jan 2020
By Jon Davis,
I have a list of questions, many with no answers, regarding the huge 350 MW Solar Industrial complex which has been proposed for our town.
The large size, 350 MW, of the Ridge View Solar Project, Town of Hartland, New York is the largest in the northeastern US according to data that I could find. It will be situated in and among the citizenry. Questions will persist until the installation is in service, and there will be no going back once this project is put in motion. We are in fact guinea pigs in an experiment. Common sense must prevail as to whether this project goes forward or is rejected by the Town Board.
The following information was obtained from google maps satellite view, Wikipedia and a report from “Power Technology”.
From the maps I was able to observe, the areas surrounding the largest US industrial solar installations are desert. The largest American operational solar installations are all in the Southwestern US.
The following are currently operating photovoltaic solar panel installations:
Solar Star, is a 579-megawatt photovoltaic power station; Solar Star is a 579-megawatt (MWAC) unit located near Rosamond, California, that is operated and maintained by SunPower Services. When completed in June 2015, it was the world's largest solar farm in terms of installed capacity, using 1.7 million solar panels, made by SunPower and spread over 13 square kilometers (3,200 acres).1
Address: General Petroleum Rd, Rosamond, CA; located in a desert situated oil field.
1) Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_Star
2) Google Maps satellite: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Solar+Staremail@example.com,-118.3392188,2879m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m12!1m6!3m5!1s0x80c21652fee2849d:0xf6f263af4a4b3107!2sSolar+Star!8m2!3d34.9391638!4d-118.337191!3m4!1s0x80c21652fee2849d:0xf6f263af4a4b3107!8m2!3d34.9391638!4d-118.337191
Topaz Solar Farm is a 550 megawatt (MWAC) photovoltaic power station in San Luis Obispo County, California. Construction on the project began in November 2011 and ended in November 2014. It is one of the world's largest solar farms. The $2.5 billion project includes 9 million CdTe photovoltaic modules based on thin-film technology, manufactured by U.S. company First Solar. The company also built, operates and maintains the project for MidAmerican Renewables, a Berkshire Hathaway company. Pacific Gas and Electric will buy the electricity under a 25-year power purchase agreement. According to First Solar, it created about 400 construction jobs.3
3) Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topaz_Solar_Farm
4)Google Maps Satellite:
The Desert Sun Solar Farm is a 550 megawatt (MWAC) photovoltaic power station approximately six miles north of Desert Center, California, in the Mojave Desert. It uses approximately 8.8 million cadmium telluride modules made by the US thin-film manufacturer First Solar. As of Fall 2015, the Solar Farm has the same 550 MW installed capacity as the Topaz Solar Farm in the Carrizo Plain region of Central California, making both of them tied for the second largest completed solar plants by installed capacity.5
5) Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desert_Sunlight_Solar_Farm
The Agua Caliente Solar Project is a 290 megawatt (MWAC) photovoltaic power station, built in Yuma County, Arizona using 5.2 million cadmium telluride modules made by the U.S. thin-film manufacturer First Solar. The project was completed in April 2014.7
8) Google Maps Satellite: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Agua+Caliente+Solar+Projectfirstname.lastname@example.org,-113.501709,5893m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x80d4539240dff1b7:0x5a4f581cfa200172!8m2!3d32.9755319!4d-113.4912867
The Copper Mountain Solar Facility is a 552 megawatt (MWAC) solar photovoltaic power plant in Eldorado Valley, Boulder City, Nevada developed by Sempra Generation. It uses approximately 9 million cadmium telluride modules made by the US thin-film manufacturer First Solar. When the first unit of the facility entered service on December 1, 2010, it was the largest photovoltaic plant in the U.S. at 58 MW. It is co-located with the 64 MW Nevada Solar One, 150 MW Boulder Solar, and 300 MW Techren Solar projects in the Eldorado Valley, thus forming a more than 1 gigawatt (GW) solar generating complex. By comparison, generating capacity at the nearby Hoover Dam is about 2 GW.9
10) Google Maps Satellite: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Copper+Mountain+Solaremail@example.com,-114.9352398,19154m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x80cf2bca06defd69:0xd11ae9f0d2c57a30!8m2!3d35.8851894!4d-114.9571703
The California Valley Solar Ranch (CVSR) is a 250 megawatt (MWAC) photovoltaic power plant in the Carrizo Plain, northeast of California Valley. The project is owned by NRG Energy, and SunPower is the EPC contractor and technology provider. The project constructed on 1,966 acres (796 ha) of a 4,365-acre (1,766 ha) site of former grazing land.11 The site of the farm also has an abandoned gypsum mine, which was cleaned up and restored for operations.12 It is utilizing high-efficiency, crystalline PV panels designed and manufactured by SunPower. The project includes up to 88,000 SunPower solar tracking devices to hold PV panels that track the sun across the sky. The project delivers approximately 550 gigawatt-hours (GW·h) annually of renewable energy and has a capacity of 250 MW. While the plant only has a capacity factor of 25%, its power is generated during the middle of the day, when demand for electricity — and price — is much higher than at night. 11
13) Google Maps Satellite: https://www.google.com/maps/place/California+Valley+Solar+Ranchfirstname.lastname@example.org,-119.9164199,5731m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x80eb9c454d71291f:0x160f2fdc3f2b9884!8m2!3d35.3223268!4d-119.9160715
I think residential property values will go down on properties adjacent to the solar installations. It is just common sense to believe that prospective housing buyers will take one look at the landscape surrounding a property and decide to buy where a view of natural countryside is present versus one with a seven foot fence surrounding a field of black shiny assemblies or structural steel. This would be regardless of a shrub and poison ivy natural screen.
Also, if properties are devalued by the installation, property value estimates and rates will not go down to reflect this, as I don’t believe there is any mechanism to lower assessment values until the property sells and an average of other sold properties of like kind are figured in. Thus, the property owner will be “underwater” on their tax assessment for the foreseeable future.
It may be said that there is no evidence of property devaluation, but according to the information that I have found, there are no currently operating solar installations the size of the one proposed for Hartland, which are located in and amongst housing and rural community settings. So, these installations are so new that no useful property value data is available.
From a Hartland Resident - Dan Jenks
To the Editor,
As a resident of the Town of Hartland I felt the need to mention a comment I made at a recent public meeting with our town board.
Recently, several townships in Niagara County have been approached about building industrial solar farms. EDF in our towns case, had canvased the area seeking to do so, waving promised money to the land owners, and painting an elaborate picture of all the money the town would receive and how we need to jump on this opportunity or miss out.
One needs to ask “why shouldn’t we do this?” There are many unanswered questions that come to mind. Among the hazards that a project of this magnitude presents to the neighboring residents, we can’t ignore the fact that home owner property insurance rates increase living anywhere within the blast radius of these Lithium/ion battery stations.
The notion that government, especially when it colludes with a big business, will be forthright and look out for the interests of the residents affected by some latest scheme. We need look no further than historical examples for sage advice.
While at the meeting, the event that came to mind immediately, was the Urban Renewal Project and how it decimated Downtown Lockport under the promise of a new revitalized city. That was a great choice, money thrown out, hook swallowed, and a city gutted...for decades! I mentioned a visit to a town called Holly in Michigan that looked like Lockport circa 1960, they do not demolish, they rebuild the old, preserving the city’s charm. I could only imagine Lockport had it held on for 10 years or more, a city like Holly but with the Erie Canal and all the other points of interest, what a destination to be sure. Let’s not forget Niagara Falls, they caved in too. I can still remember dump trucks full of debris from demolished buildings filling in the canal that formerly connected the river to the Schoellkopf Power Station...history disappearing for the next shiny thing, but hey they got a convention center...failing into a casino and Niagara Falls continues to languish.
There so many other examples to draw from. How about the NY Lottery that worked out well for education costs, NOT! Or the promise that when the bonds for the NYS Thruway construction were paid off the tolls would end, but no it remains to pay for the upkeep.
Certainly I’m off point by now. Or am I? There are no guarantees here, unproven safety, corporate dollars promised by people that who ca afford better lawyers and accountants than we can, or using an area not designated or zoned industrial looking to exploit a trusting neighborly countryside. This whole debacle is fueled by a governor that has an agenda and aspirations that align with good God-fearing folk.
I for one have no interest in being a lab rat for his “no fossil fuel by 2040”. Let me conclude with this quote from Edmund Burke.
“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it”
Orangeport Rd., Gasport
Letter of Support from Hartland Conservation Club
Susanne B. McCollum
December 9, 2019
McCollum Farms of Gasport, NY, our family farm, opposes placing any Industrial Solar Projects in agricultural rural residential areas any place in Niagara County. We oppose Industrial Solar, not private homeowner solar.
Our county is being invaded by multiple solar companies looking for open land, access to power lines, and landowners willing to lease their land for terms up to 40 years. This is happening all over Western New York. If we do not stop this invasion soon, we will not recognize our own beautiful agricultural, rural, residential county. This part of the state will never be the same. The towns of Cambria, Pendleton, Hartland, Newfane, Royalton, Lockport, and Lewiston are already endangered. There is no end to the greed of these solar companies as hundreds of millions of dollars are up for grabs from New York State taken from our tax dollars. And utility bills.
If you as a homeowner currently residing in here think this doesn’t concern you, please take a look at what is happening in the town of Hartland, to Hartland residents and landowners. This could be you. A total of 3,000 acres of land in Hartland and Newfane is needed for one of the largest industrial solar projects to be built to date in New York State. The sites will be scattered throughout the town of Hartland and part of Newfane. The sites will be around and across from many residences. For all the details go to www.nogridsolarwny.com.
We farm in several towns and have always promoted farmland preservation hoping the area would remain in agriculture for many generations to come. Granted economic times are tough for farmers, but we still have hope for the future of farming in New York State. One strategy EDF Renewables is using in Hartland is that industrial solar will save farms. How can taking away viable farmland for 40 years help save farming? The lease money will enrich a few people, a few farmers and a few landowners, but hurt many more residents and farmers in the community. Where is our empathy for our fellow neighbors, for the way of life we all love, and for our homes and property values?
We need to stop this assault on our farms and homes before it is too late. Since I started writing this letter another solar company has entered the fray with multiple offers in Newfane and Royalton. I’m sure everyone is being bombarded with proposals. Is this what we want to become? A giant power project? This issue needs to be addressed on a county wide level and quickly. It has reached a crisis level and there is no end in sight.
Has Albany thrown Niagara County to the wolves?
Get the facts at www.nogridsolarwny.com
Join our “Coalition to Protect Our Rural Communities” and be sure to call your legislators, assemblymen, and Senator. Call your representatives at town, county, and state levels and voice your concerns.
Susanne B. McCollum