Pairing agrivoltaics and pollinator habitat with community solar in New York

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Renewable Properties, a developer and investor in small-scale utility and community solar projects, currently has a portfolio of 70 MW in various stages of development, construction, and operation.

The developer works closely with the communities where their projects are located, designing the solar to meet local needs. One example is the Slayton Settlement portfolio that sits on a third-generation organic dairy farm in Lockport. When the community was concerned that projects would result in a loss of agricultural production, Renewable Properties committed to building the site as an agrivoltaics project that allows sheep to manage the vegetation. Renewable Properties is also designating part of the solar site for bee boxes. The Slayton Settlement Solar A & B will commence construction by the end of Q3 2022. The total 9.1 MW Slayton portfolio will generate enough energy to power another 1,878 homes per year and offset the equivalent of 10,642 tons of CO2 annually.

Another example is the Bullis Road project in Marilla, which is designed to avoid known archaeological resources, as well as a habitat of the pied-billed grebes, a species of water bird that is considered endangered or locally extinct in some states, with habitat loss being its biggest threat.

Pied-billed grebes

Image: Wikipedia

Both the Bullis Rd and the Slayton Settlement sites will be seeded with a pollinator grass mix that supports flowers for honeybees, birds, and other wildlife. This mix will enhance the habitat for the residing honeybees at the Slayton Settlement project site as well as helping to improve the nutritional grazing value for the sheep. The 5.7 MW Bullis Road Solar Project’s 11,394 modules will generate enough energy to power 1,141 homes per year and offset the equivalent of 6,465 tons of CO2 annually.

The second recently completed project is the 4.9 MW Rock Island Road Solar project in Gouverneur. The project consists of 9,932 modules that will generate enough energy to power 1,048 New York homes per year and offset 5,388 tons of CO2 annually.

“We are proud to serve New Yorkers with a growing pipeline of community solar projects that allow anyone anywhere to benefit from local clean energy,” said Aaron Halimi, Renewable Properties founder and president. “These solar projects will also benefit the landowners where they are sited via lease payments, as well as the surrounding communities with taxes, jobs, and other economic benefits.”

Renewable Properties, which owns the projects, partnered with Borrego, an EPC, to build the Rock Island project, and with United Renewable Energy (URE), also an EPC, on the Bullis Road and Slayton Settlement projects.

“Rock Island Road is another example of how companies like Renewable Properties are making solar accessible to more New Yorkers,” said Brian Barker executive vice president of EPC for Borrego. “We’re grateful to work on such an innovative project that pairs both economic and environmental benefits for the community. The outcome and momentum of this project is moving the state closer to its clean energy goals, and we will continue to work to see them through.”

Another 9.3 MW of community solar projects in Batavia and the Village of Minoa are scheduled to receive their notice to proceed by the end of Q4 2022. Renewable Properties has another 40 MW in earlier stages of development in the Marilla, Vestal, Oswego, Valatie, and East Syracuse, New York areas. Having raised over $80 million of corporate capital and closed on over $250 million of project financings, the company is also actively acquiring additional community solar projects in New York and other regions.

As a further milestone of Renewable Properties’ commitment to New York community solar, the company recently signed a 30 MW subscriber management agreement with Ampion, a customer management provider, which will fill and manage subscribers for its New York projects in the towns of Lockport, Vestal, Stockport, Batavia, and the Village of Minoa.

This 70 MW portfolio goes a long way toward helping New York State achieve its ambitious goals for renewable energy procurement and buildout, which include sourcing 70% of the state’s electricity from renewable and increasing solar deployment to 10 GW by 2030. It also further positions New York State as the top community solar market in the United States. In March of this year, New York officials announced the state had reached a milestone of more than 1 GW of community solar generation capacity installed across the region. According to New York Governor Kathy Hochul, at the time, New York had the nation’s largest pipeline of community solar under construction, with more than 700 projects in the queue.

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