State solar ruling felt by opponents near and far


In a ruling issued on June 13, administrative law judges ruled that the Towns of Rush and Caledonia, and RUSH (Residents United to Save Our Hometown) did not merit party status or bring any kind of substantiated issues in its fight against the Horseshoe Solar Energy Solar Project being sited in the community.

While the project is not approved as-of-yet, the 180-megawatt solar array of more than 1,200-acres across two towns in two counties, has taken a step toward completion that may overrun anything either town or the opposition group can do.

Meanwhile, the Towns of Cambria and Pendleton and COIS (Cambria Opposes Industrial Solar) are in a similar situation. The close-to home project is called the Bear Ridge Solar Project, a more than 100-megawatt project that will be about 900 acres.

“They pretty much have no say in the proceedings,” Ed Saleh said of the opponents to the Horseshoe solar array. “There are similarities in this project that are in all the projects in front of ORES right now.”

Saleh is president of COIS and was outraged by the move by the state agency.

“It’s against the New York State constitution,” he said, but noting that he wasn’t surprised when it happened.

“The more projects that are treated this way, the more you learn,” he said.

Cambria Supervisor Wright Ellis said that the Horseshoe Solar Energy Project of Invenergy, an international company with more than 190-renewable energy projects worldwide, is bigger in size and has gone through many more of the steps in the Article 10 process than the Bear Ridge Solar Project.

“When it was transferred ORES (Office of Renewable Energy Siting) accepted a lot of what they did for Article 10, because there was a lot of repetitions,” Ellis said. “That’s unusual, but that’s what they did.”

Ellis said he had not read the documents pertaining to the ruling, but had sent the documents to an attorney to analyze and give him the highlights.

Article 10 was a former siting process for renewable solar and wind projects that was replaced by the 94-c process which is administrated by ORES. Critics said that the new process takes away a community’s right to “home rule” in that the state agency could override local zoning laws and boards.

In the conclusion of a 109-page ruling, administrative law judges Mike Caruso and Gregg Sayre say that “Rush’s proposed issues regarding the archaeological survey and construction methods do not meet the standards for adjudication.” It also said that the three entities, the two towns and RUSH, labeled as “Rush” in the document, had not met the requirements to have party status.

Saleh hopes to have more substantial claims locally.

“We’ll have a nice little surprise for the developer though and it will be through completely legal means,” he said. “For them it’s an article to read, but it’s what we’re living with every day.”


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