Monolith looking to expand solar plan

Solar farm near Pattersonville to increase to 200 Kw to 600 Kw

ROTTERDAM — A Capital Region solar energy company wants to triple the size of a previously approved community solar project on state Route 5S in the Pattersonville area.

Monolith Solar Associates of Rensselaer will be before the Rotterdam Planning Commission Tuesday night, seeking a special use permit to expand its plans for 1600 Main St. from a 200-kilowatt solar farm to a 600-kilowatt farm. A facility of the larger size would produce enough power to supply about 30 households.

The 200 kW proposal was approved by the Planning Commission in November, but work has yet to start. The commission will host a public hearing on the expansion proposal at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Town Hall.

Andrew Petersen, a Monolith Solar representative, told the Planning Commission at Town Board meetings in April that the original 200 kW size was based on capacity limitations set by National Grid, which will be buying the power. Since then, Monolith has paid to have National Grid upgrade a feeder line to be able to handle addition power purchases, he said.

At November’s meeting, Planning Commission members asked questions about whether the solar arrays could be flood-proofed, given the project is in an the area along the Mohawk River that flooded during tropical storms Irene and Lee in 2011, and is in the river’s federally designated flood plain.

In a March letter, Monolith project engineer Michael E. Miele told town officials the revised project will be designed to withstand flooding events, and the mounting systems for the arrays will be designed to withstand the water pressures or ice jam impacts of any flood. The panels are to be set back 100 feet from the property line, and trees will be planted on the site to screen the panels from the nearby state highway.

Monolith Solar is the same company Schenectady County has been working with for the past three years to mount solar arrays on county-owned buildings and land, but the Pattersonville project would be on private land currently designated as agricultural. The site comprises about 6 acres.

The site is over the Great Flats Aquifer that supplies water to much of Schenectady County, but neither the original application nor the expansion raised issues for the county’s intermunicipal watershed board, according to Jason Pelton, the county’s groundwater management planner.

One of the conditions of approval, according to town documents, is likely to be proof that Monolith has provided training to members of the Pattersonville Fire Department in how to deal with a fire or other emergency at the solar farm.

As a community solar project under New York state policy, the power generated is either sold to people who receive a discount on their power bills or individuals and companies can buy the production from a specific number of solar panels and receive credit for it on their power bills, said Mark Fobare, co-founder of Monolith Solar.

Reach Daily Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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