Governor Hochul Announces Siting Approval of New York’s Largest Solar Facility to Date
Governor Kathy Hochul announced the New York State Office of Renewable Energy Siting has issued a siting permit to Hecate Energy Cider Solar LLC, to develop, design, construct, operate, maintain, and decommission a 500-megawatt solar facility in the Towns of Oakfield and Elba, Genesee County.
“Today’s announcement is a significant step in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, and further cements New York as a national leader in the fight to combat climate change,” Governor Hochul said. “This project brings New York closer to not just meeting but exceeding our goal of obtaining 70 percent of our electricity from renewable resources while creating well-paying green jobs – creating a greener, more prosperous Empire State for generations to come.”
“This new permit with Hecate Energy Cider Solar LLC will provide the largest source of solar energy to date, creating more clean energy for the state’s power grid and furthering our nation-leading clean energy goals,” said Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado. “Projects like this one will help power New York’s future and achieve a cleaner tomorrow for our children.”
Hecate Energy Cider Solar, the fifth major renewable energy facility approved by the Office of Renewable Energy Siting since 2020, is a milestone achievement as the largest solar facility approved to date in New York State. ORES’s decision follows a detailed and transparent review with a robust public participation process to ensure the proposed facility meets or exceeds the requirements of Section 94-c of the Executive Law and its implementing regulations in a timely, cost-effective manner.
This solar facility and other major renewable energy facilities permitted and currently under ORES review are vital to meet the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act’s (CLCPA) aggressive carbon reduction and clean energy targets to combat climate change. Once completed, this solar facility is expected to generate enough clean energy to power more than 125,000 New York homes, which will result in a reduction of approximately 462,000 tons of CO2 annually.
Office of Renewable Energy Sitting Executive Director Houtan Moaveni said, “Today’s decision demonstrates the effectiveness and efficacy of the Executive Law § 94-c process to accelerating the development of large-scale renewable energy projects in New York State while ensuring the protection of the environment and consideration of all pertinent social, economic, and environmental factors. We look forward to working with all stakeholders as New York’s nation-leading pipeline of large-scale renewable energy projects are constructed in a timely and responsible manner.”
The project is expected to provide approximately $30 million in new revenue to the county, town and school district in property tax-type benefits to invest in infrastructure, additional services, and resources for residents. The solar facility is expected to create 495 well-paying jobs during construction and throughout operation while investing approximately $28.1 million in construction labor, creating employment opportunities for those in the construction trades, including equipment operators, truck drivers, laborers, and electricians. Hecate Energy provided $500,000 in intervenor funds to facilitate the participation of local agencies and community groups in the review of the facilities.
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, “New York is advancing a nation-leading pipeline comprised of enough large-scale solar, onshore and offshore wind projects to power five and half million homes with clean, affordable electricity once completed. Today’s decision by the Office of Renewable Energy Siting reflects an ongoing commitment by developers like Hecate Energy who are working with local host governments and community stakeholders to ensure projects like this are sited responsibly and is a significant step in moving this groundbreaking Cider Solar project towards completion.”
State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “DEC applauds Governor Hochul’s ongoing prioritization of renewable energy development to support our state’s necessary transition away from fossil fuels. As more solar projects continue to be approved and come online, we are closer to achieving the goals and requirements set in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. This will continue to provide renewable energy benefits here in Genesee County and throughout the state.”
New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, “Large-scale, renewable projects like this will be critical to achieving the State’s bold clean energy and climate agenda. Solar farms of this scope produce enough energy to power thousands of homes while also creating well-paying, family-sustaining jobs and breathing new life into our local economies. As a member of the Climate Action Council, I congratulate those who made the project a reality and I look forward to visiting once its complete.”
New York League of Conservation Voters President Julie Tighe said, “The New York League of Conservation Voters is thrilled to see the Office of Renewable Energy Siting issue the final permit for Cider Solar in Genesee County, which will be the largest solar facility in the state. This project is an important step in reaching our climate goals. In recent history, New Yorkers have experienced record breaking extreme heat and flooding, and it is even more clear that New York cannot afford to rely on fossil fuels to power our homes and businesses. We congratulate Cider Solar Farm on this important milestone and look forward to continued momentum to build clean energy project across the state.”
Alliance for Clean Energy Executive Director Anne Reynolds said, “Each time a solar project completes New York’s comprehensive review and permitting process, it is great news for construction jobs, cleaner air, and climate action. We welcome today’s news that the Cider Solar project will be moving forward, and we congratulate the Office of Renewable Energy Siting for completing this permit, the first to undergo the complete review process exclusively through ORES.”
Today’s decision may be obtained by going to the Office’s website at https://ores.ny.gov/permit-applications
New York’s Nation-Leading Clean Energy Initiative
New York State’s nation-leading climate agenda is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy as New York State recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Enshrined into law through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is on a path to achieve its mandated goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economy wide carbon neutrality. It builds on New York’s unprecedented investments to ramp-up clean energy including over $35 billion in 120 large-scale renewable and transmission projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce buildings emissions, $1.8 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and over $1.6 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. Combined, these investments are supporting nearly 158,000 jobs in New York’s clean energy sector in 2020, a 2,100 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011 and a commitment to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035. Under the Climate Act, New York will build on this progress and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, while ensuring that at least 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities, and advance progress towards the state’s 2025 energy efficiency target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 trillion BTUs of end-use energy savings.
The Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES or Office) is the first-of-its-kind state agency dedicated solely to environmentally responsible and cost-effective siting of renewable energy facilities and was established by the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act in April 2020. The Office consolidates the environmental review and permitting of major renewable energy facilities to ensure that siting decisions are predictable, responsible, and done in a timely manner with input from local governments and host communities. On March 3, 2021, the Office adopted comprehensive regulations including a set of uniform standards and conditions to implement the Act. The Office is designed to enable New York to obtain 70 percent of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030, as required under New York’s nation-leading climate plan, enshrined into law through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.