By Matthew Reitz
The Town of Volney will hold a public hearing on August 4 to take comments on a site plan review for a large solar power system submitted by SolarCity Corporation.
The solar farm, along with a similar project at the county’s highway garage on state Route 104 in Scriba, is part of an effort by Oswego County to become more financially and energy efficient. The efforts began several years ago when a task force was created to research opportunities for the county to use environmentally friendly technology in ways that could save money, according to county administrator Phil Church.
The two projects are expected to save the county $355,897 in 2017, with increased savings in following years reaching up to $400,000.
The Volney site is located west of the Bristol Hill landfill behind the Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation facilities, and will sit on over nine acres of county-owned property. Officials say the proposed 2-megawatt solar farm will produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of over 400 average homes.
County Legislator Linda Lockwood said certain project details still needed to be worked out, but the endeavor is “still in the works” and moving forward.
“I know it’s coming,” Lockwood said.
Church said the project documents have been signed, and the county hopes to finalize the planning process and break ground later this year.
“I want it done before the snow flies,” Church said.
He said the county has entered into a 20-year contract with SolarCity in which it will purchase power at a fixed rate that is less than current utility prices. The panels will be installed on county-owned property, but SolarCity will own and maintain the system throughout the terms of the lease. Church said the plan will “guarantee savings” without putting any additional stress on county taxpayers.
Based in San Mateo, Calif., SolarCity is one of the nation’s largest developers, financers and installers of solar power products.
Church said the county has installed smaller solar projects in the last few years that have worked out well, including systems at Camp Hollis and the Bunner Street facilities in Oswego, but this will be the county’s first experience with a large-scale solar farm.
Volney’s planning board will hold the public hearing at 6:30 p.m. on August 4, directly preceding the regularly scheduled planning board meeting.