Ransomville, NU solar farm agreements OK'd

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Aug. 28—The Lewiston Town Board this week approved agreements pertaining to two proposed solar farms, one in Ransomville and one on the Niagara University campus.

Kilmer Solar, an affiliate of Ontario-based Saturn Power, wants to lease 33 acres of vacant land and set up a 5-megawatt community solar farm at 4616 Townline Road, Ransomville.

The host agreement signed by Supervisor Steve Broderick states that Kilmer Solar will pay the town $75,000 as an initial impact fee. Kilmer will then pay an annual impact fee, starting at $15,000 in 2023 and increasing by 2% each year after that.

Construction of the Kilmer Solar farm is estimated to last between 6 and 12 months and employ 30 people from various trades. The total project cost is an estimated to be $9.1 million, with $5 million going into equipment purchases, $3.6 million into construction and $370,000 into other expenses. The construction start date isn't known, since Kilmer hasn't filed for a building permit yet, according to Broderick.

The town already approved the Kilmer Solar site plan and a special use permit for it. The town board previously declared the project does not create any significant environmental impacts.

Kilmer Solar also received sales tax and mortgage recording tax exemptions from the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency, for $271,000 savings on development expenses.

Niagara University's PILOT agreement calls for payment in lieu of taxes to be made over the next 25 years once the solar farm is completed. The annual payments will start at $3,266 per megawatt/year, based on a capacity of 3 megawatts, to $9,798 total.

Those annual payments would increase by 2% per year over the 25-year period, eventually ending at $15,759.46 in year 25. If the project's capacity is more or less than 3 megawatts, the payments will be either increased or decreased on a pro rata basis.

The university's planned system would be on 17 acres of land near its Campus Parkway entrance, and will power campus buildings when operational. 7,500 ground-mounted tracker panels are planned, which would move with the sun over the course of a day.

The project got town board approval in June, as town law requires that anyone in the town looking to put a solar energy system on their property needs such approval.

Construction will start this fall with operations planned to start in fall 2023.