Hecate talks solar at Hillsdale meetings

Hecate Energy’s Matt Levin, center, discusses detail of the Shepherd’s Run project with Copake residents who attended an open house on Wednesday, April 3 in Hillsdale.

John Coston

Hecate talks solar at Hillsdale meetings

HILLSDALE — Hecate Energy LLC held two open houses at the Hillsdale Fire Company on Wednesday, April 3 to present details of its upcoming application for a 42 megawatt (MW) solar farm in Copake.

Hecate officials said they expect to submit a permit application to the New York State Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES) in early June. In February, Hecate’s application for a 60MW solar farm was denied by ORES after the company lost control of 60 acres initially slated as part of the project.

Close to 100 people came to the afternoon and evening sessions to talk to several Hecate project staff and view a roomful of large placard displays of the project.

Matt Levin, the project director, noted that the turnout was encouraging despite the windy and stormy weather that had started to cover roads with icy slush by evening.

Levin explained that the choice of location in Hillsdale was made partly because it is closer to the residents who live nearest to the proposed project at the intersection of Routes 7 and 23 in Copake.

“The 60-day statutory clock to submit the application suggests we’ll file in early June,” Levin said.

Residents looked over brochures that provided an overview of the project and asked the Hecate staff questions.

Some wanted to know “Why here?”

Diane Sullivan, a senior vice president for environment and permitting, explained that reasons behind the selection included landowners who were interested, along with the advantage of being close to a New York State Electric and Gas transmision line.

Others stared at the big poster maps on display and complained that the areas where solar panels will be installed should have been better highlighted.

The Shepherd’s Run solar farm was first proposed to the Town of Copake in 2017 and called for the project to sit on 500 acres. Over the life of the planning, the land area of the project has been reduced. The current plan calls for a footprint of 215 acres with seven fenced-in areas totaling 175 acres.

Hecate pointed out that the 175-acre fenced in area now represents 35% of the original plan. Fenced-in areas house solar panels, inverters, transformers and other facility equipment, according to Hecate.

The company, based in Chicago, has other projects in the works in New York State. In Genesee County in the towns of Elba and East Oakfield, the Cider Run project is expected to encompass at least 2,800 acres straddling a transmission line and will produce 500MW. The project has been permitted.

Another project, the Coeymans Solar Farm, is a 40MW array that will soon come online in Coeymans south of Albany. Sheep grazing, which is part of the plan for Shepherd’s Run, occurs at Coeymans.

A third project in Coxsackie, also south of Albany, called the Greene County Solar Facility has been granted state approval.

Under New York law, projects that aim to produce more than 25MW of alternative energy must obtain approval from the state and that approval is dependent upon opportunities for local input, including a provision for host community benefits.

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