280MW solar project outside of Rochester gets the green light


Regulators in New York have given their approval for Excelsior Energy Center, LLC, a subsidiary of Next Era Energy, to construct  a 280MW solar energy farm on 3,443 acres in the town of Byron, just west of Rochester.

The Excelsior project is the largest project approved for construction in New York, a state which is more known for its prowess in building out community solar projects than large-scale installations. Of the 3,443 reserved for the installation, the project’s footprint is expected to encompass 1,716 acres. The installation, which will also include a 20MW battery energy storage system of yet unshared duration (likely four hours, making it 80MWh), and is expected to create 290 construction jobs, three to four full-time positions and job opportunities for landscaping and snow plowing throughout the solar farm’s lifespan.

In addition, the Genesee County Economic Development Center estimated that the cost of the project will come out to $345 million and said it will provide a $117.5 million economic impact, including $37.4 million in revenue to the county, town and school district in tax benefits for public investment.

While it is the largest project to be approved in New York, the Excelsior Energy Center isn’t even the largest project to be proposed in Genesee County.

In June 2021, Hecate Energy submitted an application with the New York State Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES) to build a $500 million, 500MW solar farm in the towns of Elba and Oakfield, southwest of Rochester.

The project would be located on more than 65 parcels of land comprising 4,650 acres of leased private land owned by 31 landowners. The project’s total footprint would be a little more than half of that total. The proposed project would use ground-mounted, single-axis tracking.

New York State’s Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act created the new ORES and rules for the permitting of large-scale renewable energy projects. It is intended to enhance the siting and construction of projects with input from local communities. Hecate’s Cider Solar 94-c application is one of the first new applications submitted to ORES.

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