Hecate Energy puts Shepherd’s Run on the fast track
Diane Valden is reporting for The Columbia Paper the proposed Hecate [HEK-uh-tee] Energy 60 megawatt Shepherd’s Run Solar Farm is now on the fast track to approval. The industrial-scale project is not permitted under the Copake zoning laws, but it is moving forward because Hecate bypassed the local law and requested site approval from the New York State Siting Board, under procedures in Article 10 of the Public Service Law. In an announcement last week, Hecate said it has transferred the application from Article 10 to “the state’s new siting process for renewable energy projects, known as ‘94-c’ for the section of state Executive Law that established the new system, [and] sets the standards and conditions for siting, design, construction, operation and permitting that Shepherd’s Run will be required to follow.” Though the switch was not unexpected, the news drew an angry reaction from town officials and opponents. “Hecate’s announcement that it is switching to 94-c is more bad news for Copake,” Town Supervisor Jeanne E. Mettler said in a press release. “Now Hecate has jumped from Article 10 which had little regard for local zoning to 94-c which is geared to totally ignore local laws in favor of a quick state rubber-stamping for solar projects,” she said. Hecate Energy Project Developer Alex Campbell noted, “The transfer to the state’s new comprehensive siting and permitting process ensures a rigorous and responsible environmental review process. It will also help provide real benefits and safeguard input opportunities for the local community.” Republican State Senator Daphne Jordan said April 16, that she has stood with Copake citizens and officials for months “in expressing my many serious concerns about Hecate Energy’s proposed massive project and its potential negative impact on the town’s special quality of life.” Jordan is critical of the project due to Hecate's failure to respect and recognize local Home Rule and to include proper protection provisions for local farmland. She has urged the NYS Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment to deny the company its required certificate in her official public comment. Hecate does have supporters, including Friends of Columbia Solar, which argues that solar power will be crucial to making the state's mandate of 70 percent renewable electricity by 2030. The Chicago-based Hecate is a developer of solar farms, wind farms and energy storage projects. The Shepherd's Run proposal calls for the installation of 200,000 solar panels on steel-tracking mounts on 280 acres of a 360-acre fenced-in area located on both sides of state Route 23 and county Route 7 in the Copake hamlet of Craryville, near the Taconic Hills Central School and the Copake Lake community. Most of the land earmarked for the facility is currently used for agriculture. Read the full story in The Columbia Paper.