Standard Equipment Company building

The former Standard Equipment Company building on West State Street in Olean.

ELLICOTTVILLE — The Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency board voted on Tuesday to revise its tax exemption policy for new community solar installations.

A new solar application was received from River Valley Solar, a Canadian company proposing a 5-megawatt project on 21-acre site along West River Road near Two Mile Road in Allegany.

The company plans to invest $11 million to erect 19,000 solar panels on the 21-acre site. There would be some screening by topography and trees. The town board has been generally supportive of the proposal.

The IDA also accepted an adaptive reuse application for the Olean Standards Building on West State Street, Olean. The new owner plans retail on the first floor and four market-rate apartments on the second floor.

Tuesday morning’s IDA meeting was conducted via telephone conference to address coronavirus concerns, with all members listening in and voting by telephone. It was also available to those clicking on the link on the IDA website.

The IDA board of directors has been considering revisions to its solar tax exemption policy. A $5,000 per megawatt payment in lieu of taxes had been in effect.

The new policy approved Tuesday establishes three levels of tax exemption per megawatt.

For projects up to 4.9 megawatts, the new P.I.L.O.T.., which will be split between the school district, county and town, will be $6,000 per megawatt.

In addition, the new uniform tax exemption policy calls for a 3% escalator payment annually.

A written host community agreement agreed to by the town will also be needed before a solar application will be approved by the IDA.

The nex policy also extends the P.I.L.O.T. from the current 15 years to 25 years.

Corey Wiktor, IDA executive director, said the IDA wanted to deliver a more direct benefit for towns, which receive a smaller share of the P.I.L.O.T. than school districts and the county.

The BQ Energy solar farms in the city of Olean provide additional energy credits amounting to $100,000 a year for the city of Olean and St. Bonaventure University.

Wiktor said that could be considered a template of sorts for future solar projects, of which there are a half dozen in the pipeline.

Projects in the 5 to 9.9 megawatt range will receive a $7,500 P.I.L.O.T., and for projects 10 to 24.9 megawatts, the P.I.L.O.T will be $9,000.

The previously approved Portville Solar project, under development by Borrego Solar, requested a P.I.L.O.T. deviation for its 5 megawatt solar farm along Route 417 in Portville.

The company will pay a slightly higher P.I.L.O.T. in return for a 25-year term. It will also be subject to the new host community agreement, Wiktor said.

Wiktor said the IDA board accepted an application from 3 M Property Management LLC, for the old Olean Standards Building and agreed to set a public hearing on the request.

Aaron Hess, who owns the Fusion bar/restaurant in Allegany, bought the Olean Standards Building last October and has begun shoring it up. The former owners had been eyeing demolition, Wiktor said.

“He’s looking at a nice ground floor retail and maybe medical suites,” Wiktor said. “There will be four market-rate apartments on the second floor.”

The P.I.L.O.T. savings and the sales tax exemption would amount to about $30,000 over 10 years, Wiktor said.

(Contact reporter Rick Miller at rmiller@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)

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