PRINCETOWN -- The town of Princetown is close to giving final approval to what would be one of the largest commercial solar projects in the Capital Region.
The town Planning Board last Thursday voted to approve a special use permit for the Pattersonville Solar Facility, a 20-megawatt photovoltaic solar array to be built on a 150-acre property on Scotch Church Road near the hamlet of Pattersonville. It will be located on former farm land.
The Town Board still needs to finalize a host community benefit agreement, which is expected to happen at the Aug. 13 board meeting, Town Supervisor Louis Esposito said.
"I don't anticipate any problems," Esposito said. "We don't have any town taxes, so we're going to do a host community agreement."
The $45 million project, proposed by alternative energy developer Teichos Energy of Seattle, was unveiled in March 2018, among several dozen large-scale solar projects around the state being supported by New York state as part of efforts to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. In the Capital Region, it appears to be the closest to fruition.
The state is supporting the project by guaranteeing future energy purchases from it. A 20-megawatt array generates roughly enough power to supply 15,000 to 20,000 homes. Electricity produced at the site will go into the regional energy grid.
The Town Board established zoning standards for large-scale solar projects in July 2018, and the Planning Board has been reviewing the Teichos plans since then. At a public hearing last Thursday, only two people spoke, one of them Ray Gillen, Schenectady County's economic development director.
"It's a big investment and a good use of the site," Gillen said on Tuesday.
The Schenectady County Industrial Development Agency is expected to offer a sales tax exemption on construction materials, and Gillen said the IDA is in the process of negotating a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement that will generate what he called "significant revenue" for the county and for the Schalmont Central School District.
The town, because it has no town property tax, is negotiating a separate deal from the PILOT agreement, Gillen said.
Assuming it is approved, the Pattersonville array is scheduled to start producing power in about January 2021, said Jim Voorhees, Teichos' vice president of development and acquisitions.
"We still have some interconnection work we're finalizing and then there's winter, so it will probably be next year for mobilization and construction," Voorhees said.
Teichos operates in 24 states, developing utility-scale renewable energy projects, including wind and solar projects. Voorhees said incentives offered through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and other state programs have encouraged the company to invest in New York.
"This is one of several New York projects we're doing, and this is farthest along," Voorhees said.
The Princetown project is separate from Schenectady County's efforts to develop solar energy projects on county-owned and municipal lands around the county.