Bear Ridge Solar Project

A proposed 100 MW-AC solar facility in the Towns of Cambria and Pendleton, Niagara County, New York

Street view of solar farm behind trees next to house

Bear Ridge Solar Project's 94C Siting Process


New York State has enacted a significant overhaul of large-scale renewable energy project permitting, replacing the process under Article 10 of the Public Service Law. The Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act will help move the State toward achieving the goals set forth in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (“CLCPA”). These goals include having a minimum of 70% statewide electricity consumption come from renewable sources by 2030. Under the Act, large-scale renewable energy projects will now apply to a streamlined permitting regime overseen by a newly-created Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES), within the Department of State. The Act creates a centralized, uniform permitting process for large-scale renewable energy generation facilities. No other state agency, department, authority, or municipality may require any approval for a major renewable energy project, provided that a municipality has been given notice. ORES will consult with NYSERDA, the Department of Environmental Consultation, the Department of Public Service, the Department of Agriculture & Markets, and any other relevant state agencies and authorities with subject matter expertise to set uniform permitting standards and conditions. These standards and conditions will be designed to avoid or minimize, to the maximum extent possible, any potential significant adverse environmental impacts. Before the uniform standards and conditions are adopted, ORES must hold four public hearings in different regions of the state to receive comments from the public and the municipalities. Once an Application under the process is filed, ORES must determine that the application is complete within sixty days, and the developer must submit proof that it consulted with the local municipalities about the procedural and substantive requirements of any applicable local law. Within sixty days from completion of the Section 94-c, ORES will publish draft permit conditions for public comment. Members of the public as well as municipalities have sixty days to respond. If any comment raises a “substantive and significant issue,” then ORES must proceed to an adjudicatory hearing to hear arguments and consider evidence on that issue. General statements of opposition will be considered by ORES but would not warrant a hearing. Municipalities who receive notice of a Section 94-c application “shall” submit a statement to ORES indicating whether the project complies with local law. If the municipality states that the project does not comply, and ORES decides not to hold an adjudicatory hearing, then the Department of State must hold a public statement hearing in the affected municipality. All 94-C Permits will require the permittee to provide a host community benefit. Permittees and host communities can agree to the type of benefit that will be provided, or ORES or the PSC can determine the type of project that would benefit the community. ORES, may elect not to apply, in whole or in part, any local law or ordinance which would otherwise be applicable if it makes a finding that, as applied to the proposed major renewable energy facility, it is unreasonably burdensome in view of the CLCPA targets and the environmental benefits of the proposed major renewable energy facility.

Application of Bear Ridge Solar, LLC for a 94-c Permit for Major Renewable Energy Facility

  • https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/Zl0cCZ6ylDCM01vRfzPIFs?domain=documents.dps.ny.gov

Legal Notice

Bear Ridge Solar Project, LLC. 
Developer: Cypress Creek Renewables, LLC. 
Towns of Cambria and Pendleton, Niagara County NY 
100 MW capacity, 937-acre Facility Site, 385-acre PV Array Area Matter number: 21-02104 
The proposed Facility is a 100 megawatt (MW) alternating current (AC) photovoltaic (PV) solar energy generating project located within the Towns of Cambria and Pendleton, Niagara County, New York. The Facility Site will be located on private lands that are primarily rural in nature and total approximately 937 acres, of which approximately 524 acres will be occupied by Facility infrastructure and maintained for the life of the Facility (e.g., up to 40 years). Key terms used frequently in to describe the Bear Ridge Solar Project are defined below: · Project: Collectively refers to permitting, construction and operation of the Facility, as well as proposed environmental protection measures, and other efforts proposed by the Applicant. · Facility Site: The parcels or portions of parcels proposed to host the Facility components and/or associated facilities. · Facility: The proposed major renewable energy facility as defined at §900-1.2(ag) of the 94-c regulations. Bear Ridge Facility components will include: PV modules and their rack/support systems; direct current (DC) collection lines and communications cables connecting the modules to inverters; the inverters with their support platforms, control electronics, and step-up transformers; buried alternating current (AC) medium voltage collection lines; security fencing and gates around each array of PV modules; gravel access roads; temporary laydown areas; medium voltage-to-transmission voltage substation with associated equipment and fenced areas; a short length of transmission voltage line (approximately 260 feet) to connect the Facility to the designated point of interconnect (POI); a switching station, to be owned by National Grid, that loops the existing Mountain – Lockport 115 kV transmission line through the POI; an off-site operations and maintenance (O&M) facility at an existing building to support maintenance of the Facility during operation; and any other improvements subject to the Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES) jurisdiction.

Legal Notice - Intent to File 

BEAR RIDGE SOLAR PROJECT 
Niagara County, New York 
NOTICE OF INTENT TO FILE AN APPLICATION 
Bear Ridge Solar LLC is proposing to construct a major electric generating facility under Section 94-c of the Executive Law. A Notice of Intent to File an Application was previously published in accordance with 19 NYCRR §900-1.3(d) on August 10, 2021. A subsequent notice was published between October 28-30, 2021, announcing that the Application would be filed on or about November 3, 2021. Circumstances did not allow for Application filing in early November and by this Notice, Bear Ridge Solar hereby announces that it will file an Application pursuant to 19 NYCRR §900 seeking a permit from the Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES) authorizing the construction and operation of the Facility on or about November 30, 2021. The Bear Ridge Solar Project is a 100 megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic electric generating facility proposed to be located in the Towns of Cambria and Pendleton, Niagara County, New York (the “Facility”). The Facility will consist of rows of photovoltaic panels, approximately 8 feet in height and arranged in discrete subarrays dispersed throughout the Project Site, as well as associated electrical collection lines, inverters, transformers, fencing, access roads, temporary construction laydown yards, visual mitigation buffers, and an operation and maintenance building. The medium voltage collection system will aggregate the 34.5 kilovolt (kV) output from the co-located inverters and transformers at a collection substation and then deliver energy to a new point of interconnection (POI) substation on National Grid’s existing Mountain-Lockport 115 kV transmission system. A short transmission line will connect the collection substation to POI. The project is a zero-emission solar energy facility that will assist the State in meeting the goals of the Climate Leadership and Protection Act and State Energy Plan, which includes obtaining 70% of energy generation from renewable sources by 2030 and significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Other positive impacts of the Project include diversification of energy supplies, new employment opportunities (both temporary construction employment and full-time job), and increased revenues to the Towns, the County, School District, payments to participating landowners, the local hospitality industry, and purchase of local supplies and goods. 

For more information about the Facility please visit the Facility website at www.bearridgesolar.com or contact Bear Ridge Solar at Rikki.Cason@ccrenew.com. 
Upon filing the Application, Bear Ridge Solar will provide funding in the amount of $100,000 to be deposited into a local agency account to be made available to local agencies and potential community intervenors for the purpose of contributing to a complete record leading to an informed permit decision as to the appropriateness of the site and the Facility, and for local agencies, shall include the use of funds to determine whether a proposed Facility is designed to be sited, constructed and operated in compliance with applicable local laws and regulations. Any local agency or potential community intervenor shall submit a request for initial funding within thirty (30) days of the date of application filing forms are available at the ORES website (www.ores.ny.gov/resources) and such requests can be submitted by email to: general@ores.ny.gov OR by mail to: Attention: Request for Local Agency Account Funding Office of Renewable Energy Siting Empire State Plaza 240 State Street P-1 South, J Dock Albany, NY 12242

Location and Range of Potential Environmental and Health Impacts
  • Solar facilities are not known to pose significant public health risks as they do not rely on combustion or burn fuels which are hazardous to mine, refine, transport and store, do not generate toxic wastes such as ash or spent nuclear fuel, and do not emit air pollutants which harm public health, safety and the environment. By contrast, the public health and environmental benefits of transitioning to renewable energy cannot be understated; those benefits have been a key driver of New York energy policy for decades and were a central component of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) (NYCAC, 2019). The State anticipates that the CLCPA’s renewable energy generation targets will result in improved air quality and increased health benefits across the State (CLCPA, 2020). Most impacts to plant communities will be in those areas currently defined as active agricultural areas (e.g., active row crops and active field crops), approximately 94 percent of all impacted areas. Active row crop areas provide limited habitat for wildlife species, and it is anticipated that the diverse, dense vegetation expected under PV arrays and within the limit of vegetation management will improve habitat and provide a benefit to the common species utilizing this site as compared to the actively farmed areas which exist now. Minimal tree clearing is needed for construction of the Facility because it has been purposefully sited in open, agricultural areas. Active agricultural areas comprise approximately 759 acres of the 937-acre Facility Site. Construction of the Facility will result in a temporary disturbance to approximately 520 acres of active agricultural lands. Within that temporarily disturbed area an estimated 497 acres will be converted to an early successional community for the life of the Facility. The proposed Facility has been sited to avoid impacts to a variety of sensitive resources, including wetlands and streams, sensitive wildlife habitats, cultural resources, and significant agricultural resources, to the maximum extent practicable. The Applicant is limited to developing the Project on lands identified by participating landowners and has been designed to be fairly compact in relation to where sensitive resources exist, land availability, and feasibility of construction, while maintaining a design for a100 MW capacity. It is the Applicant’s understanding that the parcels where the Facility is proposed were identified by the participating landowners to be their least productive fields. Various measures to protect and restore agricultural lands and farming operations within the Facility Site will be undertaken during and after construction and will include full restoration of temporarily disturbed agricultural land according to an Agricultural Plan. No impacts to state-regulated wetlands will occur as a result of Facility construction or operation. However, some impacts within a state-regulated 100-foot adjacent area are anticipated. These are limited to one area, where minor impacts to the regulated adjacent area will also occur because of security fence installation and PV modules. Impacts to the state-regulated adjacent areas have been avoided to the greatest extent practicable and the placement of Facility components within state-regulated wetlands has been completely avoided. There are no known active water supply wells within 100 feet of any proposed collection lines or access roads, within 200 feet of proposed PV arrays, or 500 feet of proposed horizontal directional drilling (HDD) operations. To further avoid impacts to waters within the Facility Site during construction and operation of the Facility, a Preliminary Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) has been prepared. The Applicant will conduct the detailed engineering necessary to prepare a Final SWPPP, in accordance with the State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) General Permit, and which will be submitted as a compliance filing prior to construction. In addition, to prevent unintended releases of petroleum and other hazardous chemicals, a Preliminary Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan has been prepared that outlines preventative measures and response procedures in the unlikely event of a release. The Applicant prepared a Wildlife Site Characterization Report for the Project in accordance with the requirements of §900-1.3(g)(1). Information reviewed in the WSC Report suggest that the Facility Site’s wildlife community consists of relatively common species that are typically found in agricultural habitat. The WSC also identifies state-listed threatened, endangered, or special concern species documented in the vicinity of the Facility Site within the last five years. The Facility has been designed to avoid and minimize impacts to environmental resources to the extent practicable, while also making a meaningful contribution (100 MW) to renewable energy generation in New York and furthering well-established policy goals. However, habitat for both short-eared owl (NYS-listed endangered) and northern harrier (NYS-listed threatened) have been determined to exist on site. The Applicant has developed a Net Conservation Benefit Plan (NCBP) for the Facility in accordance with the requirements of §900-6.4(o) of the Section 94-c regulations. As part of the NCBP, the Applicant proposes to preserve and manage approximately 90 acres of open land for the life of the Facility (up to 40 years). To identify potential archaeological sites within the Facility Site, the Applicant completed the Phase IB Archaeological Survey. The archaeological survey was conducted in a series of site visits and mobilizations between April and May 2021. The Phase IB archaeological survey identified one archaeological resource within the Facility Site, consisting of a heavily disturbed, low density historic period artifact scatter that was determined as not eligible for listing on the S/NRHP. Viewshed analysis based on existing topography, vegetation and structures indicates that the proposed PV arrays will be screened from approximately 84.8 percent of the 2-mile Visual Study Area (VSA). Simulations of the proposed Facility indicate that the visibility and visual impact will be variable, with the greatest perceived visual effect occurring in near-foreground areas where a sizeable area of PV arrays will be visible. Conversely, impact is reduced when the Facility is viewed at greater distances, in a setting with existing utility infrastructure in place, and/or where partially screened by existing vegetation. A total of 40 visually sensitive resources (VSRs) were identified based on database, document review, and public outreach. Viewshed analysis indicates that the PV arrays could be at least partially visible from 15 of the 40 identified VSRs that occur within the VSA. However, field review suggests that Facility visibility at the VSRs will generally be more limited than suggested by viewshed analysis due to effects of distance, and the low profile of the proposed PV modules. The proposed Landscape Mitigation Planting Plan will be effective in reducing the visual contrast presented by the proposed Facility. The intent of the planting plan is to both screen the Facility and minimize its potential visual effect by visually integrating the Facility into the surrounding landscape. Cumulative visual impacts resulting from multiple solar projects are unlikely to occur when considering a single viewer position because all of the existing or proposed facilities within 10 miles are located sufficiently far apart.

Intervenor Funding
  • Pursuant to 19 NYCRR 900-5, Bear Ridge will submit, with the Application, $1,000 dollars for each MW of capacity for local agencies and potential community intervenors, which for this project, totals $100,000. Any local agency or potential community intervenor can submit a request to the Office for funding within thirty (30) days of the date of the Application filing. 75% of the local agency account funds shall be reserved for local agencies. Intervenor requests shall be submitted by first class mail to: Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES) c/o: OGS Mailroom Empire State Plaza 240 State Street P-1 South, J Dock Albany, NY 12242 or electronically via e-mail to general@ores.ny.gov.

  • The Bear Ridge Solar Project anticipates filing it's 94C application November 22, 2021 to November 30, 2021

    Copies of the finalized application can be viewed at the following locations:

    Cambria Town Hall 
    4160 Upper Mountain Road Sanborn, NY 14132  

    Pendleton Town Hall 
    6570 Campbell Blvd. Lockport, NY 14094 

    Sanborn-Pekin Free Library 
    5884 West Street Sanborn, NY 14132  

    Lockport Public Library 
    23 East Avenue Lockport, NY 14094

    The filed application can also be examined during normal business hours at the Office of Renewable Energy Siting.