WELLSVILLE — A town that gained much of its early wealth and prosperity from the oil industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries is in the final stages of approving the installation of a 21st century solar farm.
Councilmen Jesse Case and Mark Miller have been working on a community host agreement for a 33.34-acre solar farm off Lewis Road by Omni Navitas Holding Co. of Massachusetts.
At its monthly meeting, the board approved the host agreement and environmental review, pending a legal nod from the town’s attorney. In the months prior to the meeting the board passed a law concerning the development of solar and other alternative energy projects within its boundaries.
The land is owned by council member Patty Graves, who recused herself from all proceedings. It is located at 2495/2496 Lewis Road.
Case said the project not only benefits the town’s coffers, but residents as well.
According to the agreement, the 5-megawatt project will pay the town, in lieu of taxes, $12,500 — or $2,500 per megawatt per year — over the life of the project, which is expected to run 25 years. At the end of the life of the project, the property will revert to Graves.
The host agreement also provides for the decommissioning of the solar array. Case said he expects minimal environmental impact on the land and that the agreement calls for the land to be returned to its original condition when the project ends.
“It will be constructed with non-glare panels and won’t be visible from the main road. It has the least environmental impact,” Case said.
Once completed the company will sell the power it produces to the New York Power Authority in Niagara Falls, and local residents will be offered cheaper electrical service.
Before the Wellsville board received the project, the Allegany County Planning Board approved the concept and sent it along to the town planning board, which after studying it, sent it to the town board. Miller was first involved with the solar project as a member of the town planning board.
“This is the first time the town has done anything like this, but I expect that there will be more of these agreements in the future. It may be new to us but there is growing interest in alternative power resources,” Case said. “This will serve as a blueprint for future projects, and I’m sure there will be more projects like this.”
Omni Navitas is a Boston-based solar energy development group, which is acquiring small parcels of land (20 to 30 acres) throughout New York state for the purpose of constructing solar energy projects.