Residents attend a recent open house to glean a better perspective on the proposed 40-megawatt solar farm that would provide clean energy to approximately 10,000 homes. Diego Cagara / Spotlight News
COEYMANS — A 40-megawatt photovoltaic solar farm totaling 428 acres is proposed to open in 2021 between routes 9W and 101.
To comprise of photovoltaic solar arrays and access roads, it will be connected to the existing Long Lane-Lafarge 115-kilovolt transmission line at two new substations that will be located at the farm’s southern area; no new transmission lines would be required. PV panels will use the sun’s energy to produce direct current electricity that will flow to on-site electrical inverters, turning it into alternating current electricity that will go to the electrical grid to reach consumers.
It is expected to generate around 73,000 megawatt-hours of electricity annually which is sufficient to supply around 10,000 average New York state households.
The project is proposed by Hecate Energy, a Chicago-based developer of renewable energy power plants which has already developed 332 megawatts of solar projects throughout the U.S. Gabriel Wapner, Hecate Energy’s director of development, said the project still needs final approval from the state Department of Public Service and the town of Coeymans. He added, though, that it has already met with and received support from the town government.
When asked why Coeymans was chosen as a desired location, Wapner said, “Our siting efforts have been focused on accessing the transmission grid and this location has a transmission line running across it and that’s why we chose it. It’s close to a lot of industries too, near a quarry, a cement plan which also help make this an ideal location.”
Regular communication with local residents will help inform them about the construction process moving forward, he said. If approved, construction is expected to begin in the second half of 2020 and last for eight months. The proposed site is currently used for agriculture.
Hecate Energy held two informational sessions during an open house on Wednesday, Dec. 11 at the Coeymans Volunteer Fire Company #1 building at 67 Church St. Hecate Energy officials were on hand to answer residents’ questions and explain the project with posters and artistic renderings.
“This turnout has been encouraging and there’s been questions about basic information about the project and some people are typically concerned about infrastructure projects. But it’s been mainly positive feedback,” Wapner said. “Our website has frequently asked questions that seem to cover many questions for people too.”
He added that the solar farm is projected to provide $40 million in economic stimulus to the local community. “Solar farms are quiet and low profile and they’re like quiet neighbors and there will be no burdens on the local community and school systems,” he said.
According to the project’s website, the proposed solar farm will “bring a significant increase in property tax revenue for the locality than what is currently collected. The increased revenue will improve local government services like schools, which improvements have a positive effect on property values.”
The website also indicated that 140 construction jobs would be created during the installation period and two permanent jobs will emerge to operate and maintain the solar farm.
The project’s development began in 2016 with preliminary studies and an initial open house was already held about it in 2018.
“It will bring a tremendous amount of stimulus to local communities and it’s very good for the environment as there are no emissions,” Wapner concluded. “It also makes Coeymans a key player in leading the renewable energy movement in New York state.”