The Ministry of Planning and Development creates a solar decommissioning model for municipalities

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JAMESTOWN, NY:–On behalf of the Chautauqua County Legislature (“Legislature”) and the Chautauqua County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board (“AFPB”), the Chautauqua County Department of Planning and Development ( “CCDPD”) is pleased to provide model recommendations for developing and/or updating local municipal laws specific to the decommissioning of large-scale solar installations.

The need to better protect priority farmland and support agriculture as a viable economic driver in the county stems from the AFPB’s request to the Legislative Assembly in 2021 to create a template to help municipalities plan for following concerns (regarding utility-scale solar projects):

  • Ensure that soils return to their original productivity after the life of these projects; and,
  • Ensure that developers and operators are held accountable for the financial and physical retirement of projects after their lifespan and/or after a no-build period.

The model provides city leaders with recommendations based on research, best practices and guidance documents. CCDPD reviewed numerous municipal solar laws, contacted solar developers to assess specific decommissioning plans, reviewed guidance documents from the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency and the Department of Agriculture and Market of the State of New York, took into account the recommendations of the American Planning Association and the New York Planning Federation. , and reviewed resources from the Solar Energy Industries Association. The template is a compilation of recommendations/best practices that the CCDPD was able to gather from many different sources.

“I am pleased that we are able to balance the desires of landowners and municipalities to welcome these projects, with the concerns we all have to ensure they do not cause problems in the short and long term. “said Mark Geise, deputy. County Executive for Economic Development. “I appreciate the County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board for bringing these concerns to our attention, and for the diligent work of the Planning Department in creating this model. will find it useful.

Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel said, “A decommissioning plan is a crucial part of all solar projects. I am pleased with the decommissioning model that our planning and development department has created for municipalities. »

The CCDPD has also developed an online municipal resource mapping tool. Data layers from various sources have been uploaded to a web mapping application in ArcGIS Online. Data layers include municipal boundaries, soil types, transmission lines, wetlands, and more. Municipalities now have the means to assess potential development sites, whether solar projects or any other type of development projects, before moving forward with the issuance of building permits, special use exemptions or any other land use action using this tool.

“It is a very utilitarian tool through which anyone can view plots and overlays to assess the characteristics of sites being considered for development with the click of a mouse,” Geise said. “Once again, I salute the hard work of the planning department in developing such a useful tool.”

The Solar Decommissioning Model and the online Municipal Resource Mapper are available on the CCDPD website at https://planningchautauqua.com/resources/municipal-resources/

For more information on CCDPD’s municipal resources, please contact Lauren Sharp at (716) 661-8245 or [email protected]

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