Hecate downsizes Copake solar proposal

COPAKE – Hecate Energy LLC has proposed a cutback in the capacity of the Shepherd’s Run Solar Farm project to reflect the loss of a 60-acre parcel originally included in planning.

Shepherd Run’s generating capacity would be reduced to 42 megawatts (MW) from 60MW under a suggested new approach.

Slated along routes 23 and 7, the project was on track following the issuance of a determination in August by the New York State Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES) that the project application was “complete.”

The project footprint spans 880 acres with a solar array covering about 220 acres. The installation would be one of the first things motorists encounter as they enter this agricultural community from the west.

On Jan. 2 it became apparent that Hecate had lost access to close to 60 acres initially included in the project for hosting up to 20% of the farm’s solar panels, and for a “laydown area” and road access to adjacent parcels included in the project. The Town of Copake filed with the ORES office seeking dismissal of Hecate’s application based on the new information and claiming that a redesign of the project is required.

Following the town’s motion, the ORES staff last week responded that it “appears that the applicant [Hecate] may not meet the regulatory requirements necessary to obtain a final siting permit for the facility as initially proposed.”

“Such deficiency,” the staff filing continued, “if not meaningfully rebutted by the applicant, may require denial of the application.”

Diane Sullivan, a senior vice president of environmental and permitting at Hecate Energy, said in a filing to ORES on Thursday, Jan. 25, that the company plans to submit a revised plan within 60 days. Hecate also argued that the executive director of ORES, Houtan Moaveni, has the leeway to “proceed in ways not addressed by the ORES staff response.”

“Hecate has been actively working to develop an updated Project layout, analyze how the removal of the [60 acre] parcel affects Project impacts, and to determine where supplemental information is needed to the Application to make conforming updates,” Sullivan said in the filing.

One approach suggested by Hecate would be for the state agency to issue a notice of incomplete application.

Another approach called for the for issuance of “an abeyance of the proceeding” while Hecate prepares a proposed supplement to its application.

“These options would enable Hecate to update the Project’s Application to reflect a smaller project within the same footprint without requiring an unnecessary, time consuming and potentially complex full withdrawal and resubmission of an entirely new application,” Hecate wrote.

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