Draft of Canton solar power law available for public review and comment
Friday, August 16, 2019 - 1:24 pm

BY ADAM ATKINSON
North Country This Week

CANTON -- Town residents still have an opportunity to review Canton’s proposed law to manage any future commercial solar development projects in the town.

An 11-page draft of the law can be viewed on the town website at https://bit.ly/2z3cbUF, and hard copies are available in the clerk’s office.

Comments or input can be left with the town clerk.

The town board held a hearing on the law on Aug. 14, and public input was minimal.

After a year and a half crafting the law, and a moratorium on commercial solar farm development in the town, Canton is moving closer towards final approval. Town Supervisor Mary Ann Ashley said she appreciates the due diligence of the committee members charged with the writing the law and input from the county planning board.

The county planning board recently sent back its findings of a review of the law, directing the town to modify a few minor issues in the draft prior to approval.

“There are a couple more steps we have to do,” said Ashley.

Ashley said the town board will now complete a State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) form concerning the law and review the findings at the September town board meeting.

If a negative declaration is found, the board could approve the law and then submit it to the Department of State.

“That’s when the work begins,” said Ashley, “because there is going to a rigorous process (of reviewing potential developments.)

A moratorium on construction of such large scale commercial solar projects has been in place since July 2018 to allow the town to draft a policy regarding solar farm development.

The new law will deal specifically with commercial-scale developments and does not apply to solar panels and solar energy equipment located at a private residence, on a roof or a legally permitted building or structure “for the purpose of producing electricity primarily for on-site consumption.”

The law defines the type of solar project in question as commercial scale construction or installation of any photovoltaic solar panel, electrical energy storage devices, material hardware, inverters, conduit or other electrical equipment associated with the production or transmission of electrical energy.

The new law also does not prevent National Grid from conducting its regular business of providing electrical service and maintaining its equipment. Nor would it have any bearing on the development of the Tesla solar farm constructed in the old drive-in this past year which will supply the village of Canton with lowered utility bill through a grid intertie arrangement with National Grid.

Notably the law offers protections for property owners and residents who may be affected by construction of a large-scale commercial solar development in some way.

Several local municipalities are drafting similar laws governing commercial solar developments.