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Wallkill Valley TimesWallkill solar farm eyed

Wallkill solar farm eyed

A large scale solar farm has been proposed for the former Borden farm property in Shawangunk.

The project, known as Daybreak Solar, contains about 260 acres and is bordered by Strawridge Road, Borden Road, Camp Wendy Girl Scout Camp and Magnini Winery.

The Shawangunk Town Board plans to hold a public hearing on a local law to regulate such projects at its next meeting on Feb. 1, which leaves the proposal waiting in the wings.

Looking to state their case before the public hearing, representatives for Geronimo Energy, the company behind the project, made a presentation to the town board on Thursday.

Daybreak Solar is projected to generate about 25 megawatts of energy and be ready to connect to Central Hudson’s East Walden substation by the end of 2020.

The solar panels would be fixed tilt arrays—meaning they would be installed on pile-driven posts (no cement) and tilted upward to absorb the sunlight. They would be 12-15 feet in height.

The total array area would cover 94 acres, with a fenced area of about 124 acres. The fence would be an agricultural style fencing, similar to what can currently be seen in local orchards.

“We tried to lay out in a way that would minimize impacts and conserve as much of the woodlands on site as possible,” said Andy Catania, presenting for Geronimo Energy.

Catania said in the current design, they will only remove six acres of woodland and will not disturb any of the wetlands. In addition, they remain open to additional plantings to screen the project from the neighboring homes, providing renderings of the expected views from those homes.

The project’s ambassadors acknowledged that the property is owned by the Donner Trust and has a rich history—which might make town residents reluctant to see the development.

“Geronimo understands and appreciates the importance of rich local history, including the Borden farm,” said Eric Will, New York Area Manager for Geronimo Energy in a submittal to the town board.
“Geronimo’s vision is to create and design a solar project that exists in congruence with the character of the land and history of the area.”

To make the project more appealing to the town, the company has offered to include areas for beekeeping, a 2-mile walking trail that will go around the perimeter of the facility, and a dog park area in the southern portion of the project.

Catania also advised the board that when the project reaches the end of its life (in about 25 years), all of the equipment can be removed and the property returned to meadowlands or grasslands. At that time, the property could be gifted to the community, providing “an area within the community that was preserved and protected permanently.”

This decommissioning would be the responsibility of Geronimo Energy.
“We really just wanted to throw our ideas out there and try to make a good effort at incorporating something that could work well in the community and see if there is a way to figure something out that works for everybody,” said Catania.

The fate of the proposal rests on the local law the town board is looking to enact in the near future. It would put regulations in place for the town that could open the opportunity for a new revenue source, but also protect the town’s natural resources and scenic views.

Looking at the proposed local law, the main hurdles anticipated for the project are the use restriction and the proposed volume of the project.
The public hearing on the proposed local law is set for Thursday, Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. at the Shawangunk Town Hall. A copy of the proposed local law is available at the town clerk’s office or online at shawangunk.org.

In other business, the board appointed Steve Lenz to the Environmental Management Council for a one year term. They also approved the Walker Valley Fire Company 2017 Service Awards Points and a revised contract with the town’s highway superintendent with regard to the paving of town roads.

The town board anticipates moving forward with obtaining a new police vehicle at their next meeting.

By RACHEL COLEMAN

4 comments

  • Donna:

    This sounds like a huge eyesore. “Agricultural fencing” is not visually appealing, 94 acres of panels? What safeguards are in place for the 25 year decommissioning if the company disolves before then? Will this add any job opportunities? Will there be a property tax benefit to the hamlet? Will Shawangunk residents benefit from the solar power? Will we see lower electric bills town wide? Let’s not forget Shawangunk encompasses a larger area beyond the Hamlet.

    • Karl k:

      The town will not see lower electric bills. This company will sell the power back to the “BEC” a bulk electrical system, operated by the NYISO. Projects like this could help to effect overall power supply constraints in our ISO grid area “zone G”. Cost savings would be diluted through the utilities “delivery charges” and ESCO “energy supple company’s” – “supple charges” . The only way the town makes money is buy taxing the assets in then property, and reducing property taxes.

  • Trent:

    I have same questions as Donna…need to see the plans/map of course and environmental impact reports. Doubt this is even possible. What are the mitigation controls and timeframe for construction? Neighbors should have free power, farm should not visible at all to neighbors, no noise, no increased traffic, discreet entrance and Geronimo should pay to fix the borden bridge too!

  • Steve Schumm:

    Hi- I read this in the paper and two words slammed dunk me!! At the end of 25 years from now. The equipment “””CAN”” be removed & the property “”””” COULD'””‘ be gifted back to the community??? The I said to myself, if GERONIMO goes out of business or is bought out by another company would new company be responsible to remove the panels?. Maybe the town should visit other communities where GERINIMO has installed solar farms as this and see how well it all works?? If the report I saw on the internet is true. President Trump has just initiated a tariff on imported solar panels which would drive the price up.

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