Copake prepares for second Shepherd’s Run solar filing

Farmland vista where the proposed 42 megawatt Shepherd’s Run Solar Farm is planned along Route 23 at the entryway to the rural hamlet of Copake. Opponents say the project would detract from the scenic farmland community.

John Coston

Copake prepares for second Shepherd’s Run solar filing

COPAKE — Town of Copake Supervisor Richard Wolfe reported that Hecate Energy LLC plans to seek a siting permit for a 42 megawatt (MW) solar project after the company’s plan was turned down by the state last month.

The project, called Shepherd’s Run, was originally designed as a 60MW facility that would be situated near the intersection of Routes 23 and 7.

The New York state Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES) on Feb. 6 dismissed the company’s application after it had lost control of a parcel of land that had been integral to the project. The decision to dismiss was made “without prejudice,” meaning that the company could resubmit.

In a January filing with ORES, Diane Sullivan, a senior vice president at Hecate, said that the company planned to submit a revised plan within 60 days, which would be any time now.

Emails and phone calls to Hecate were not returned.

Wolf, in his latest report to residents about the project’s status, wrote, “I warned that the saga of Shepherd’s Run was not over. Because the dismissal was “without prejudice,” Hecate could try again. Well, they’re back!”

The original project covered 267 acres, and according to Wolf the company plans to work with 217 acres to build a 42MW array.

“Shepherd’s Run would still be the size of more than 150 NFL-sized football fields,” Wolf wrote.

Wolf could not be reached for comment, but in his report he said that he hoped that the company “will work with Copake to address our well documented concerns about its proposal.”

Wolf said that should include incorporating proposals from an ad hoc Working Group that include a 300-acre public greenspace, creating nature walks and bicycle paths that would turn Shepherd’s Run “from an eyesore into a tourist attraction.”

The supervisor called for Hecate to compensate homeowners who will be impacted by “tens of thousands of solar panels directly across the road.”

Wolf was critical of Hecate’s approach to view a new application filing as an “amendment” to the old application.

Wolf also notes in his report that Hecate, despite its claims, has not held any “open house style” meetings to present a new proposal to the Town of Copake, and further that in its Public Information Project Plan (PIP) the company makes several mistakes regarding the identity of town officials.

“[PIP] has incorrect titles for some appointed board chairs, fails to list another appointed board member, and even lists a deceased Copakean as a current deputy chair,” Wolf wrote.

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