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Solar project public hearings called off at last minute

Jan 10, 2024 12:48 pm

Lana Bellamy reports in the Times Union that New York's Office of Renewable Energy Siting on Jan. 9 postponed public hearings about a large solar project in Copake just hours before they were set to begin because of an effort by the town to have the project application dismissed. Last weekm an LLC purchased part of the property where the solar array was planned, putting the entire project in doubt. On Jan. 4, a judge denied the Town of Copake’s motion to dismiss Hecate Energy’s solar proposal after that sale. On Jan. 5, lawyers for Copake filed a request for appeal, which was granted on Jan. 9, which led to the postponement of the public hearings. Copake Supervisor Richard Wolf said about 150 chairs had been moved into a courtroom at Town Hall for the first hearing at 1:30 p.m. when they were told just after 10 a.m. that the public meeting was off. Wolf said, “This is the first inkling of a ruling in our favor since I’ve been doing this.” The original proposal was for solar arrays on 220 acres of an 880-acre plot in Copake and Craryville in Columbia County. Hecate Energy's Project Developer Matt Levine said, “We are steadfast in helping New York accomplish its renewable energy goals.” The state has special siting rules to speed approval of needed renewable energy projects, but this one has seen much local opposition. Opponents focus on falling property values and interrupted scenic views, while the company and the state hope to provide cheaper electricity that does less harm to the planet. Read more about this story in the Times Union.