On December 5th Lansing Director of Planning C.J. Randall was the speaker at an online 'coffee hour' hosted by the Cortland and Tompkins Cornell Cooperative Extension offices. Randall made sense of new Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES) regulations that give New York State authority to site large industrial solar arrays -- two of which have been proposed in the Town of Lansing.

"I've been following energy policy as a strategic part of local governance for about a decade now," she said. "I'm interested in this intersection of planning, the environment, and also renewable energy. I happens that we are at the crossroads of this by virtue of some historic accidents, some geographic location, and some existing infrastructure."

The closing of the Cayuga Power Plant, and its remaining connection to the NYSEG energy grid make a swarth of mostly farmland across the Town of Lansing ripe for industrial solar plucking. But in a state that's laws have been supportive of local home rule, Governor Cuomo has taken jurisdiction of large solar project siting away from local municipalities in favor of ORES. She said that new regulations dictate that ORES:

  • Will be single issuer of permitting for solar energy systems +20 MW (120 ac)
  • New permitting scheme (old was PSC Article 10)
  • Key issue for municipalities: Local Laws that are 'unreasonably burdensome' are judged relative to CLCPA

Randall said the question of how much influence a local municipality has over these projects hangs in the balance, and encouraged attendees to comment on the 140 pages of ORES regulations before the public comment period ended on December 7th.

To view the entire presentation:
Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4iSrTgMetM
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdkXA5XnWRc

Each part is about 15 minutes long.