The county of Oswego is one step closer to receiving a sizable community solar farm for its residents. The Real Property Tax Law, Section 487, improves the chances of SolarPark Energy, a development company, constructing a new facility in Volney, NY. According to SolarPark Energy’s plans, the farm would have a capacity of 5-megawatts and would encompass 93 acres.
Under the new legislature, installations like SolarPark’s proposed community solar farm can receive a 15-year tax exemption. The only stipulation is that the Oswego may require the development company to enter into a Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program. To qualify for PILOT, the required payments can not be more than what would have been normally taxed on the property.
Negotiations with SolarPark resulted in a $25,000 per year split that would go toward Oswego County, the local school district, and the town of Volney. Upon completion, the Volney solar facility would generate clean energy not just for the town, but also for local residences and small businesses. While no specifics have been noted about the future project, the facility will create an affordable option for individuals looking to participate in solar energy.
Though the legislature for Real Property Tax Law, Section 487 passed, it was met with some opposition. Town of Oswego Legislator Marie Schadt felt the PILOT program was going to be too long. Additionally, Schadt has expressed concerns over SolarPark Energy’s return on the solar program, which is estimated at $1 million per megawatt.
There is also the issue of cleanup after the facility has run its course. Homeowners and members of the community fear that cleanup will fall on the taxpayers. Many aspects of a solar facility are semi-permanent and require a great expense to remove, including the cement blocks these farms are typically built on.
Schadt was reassured the developer would incur all cleanup costs through bonds, but a local attorney stated that bonds are difficult to enforce.
Based on SolarPark’s estimation of the project, it will generate enough electricity to power upwards of 1,500 homes once operational.