The Empire Solar Project is a 125 megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic electric generating facility with a 20 MW battery storage component proposed to be located in the Town of Westfield in Chautauqua County, New York (the “Project”). The Project will span approximately 1,500 acres and plans to connect to the 230 kV South Ripley to Dunkirk Line. The Project is anticipated to positively impact both the environment and the local economy by reducing carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 160,000 metric tons each year – the equivalent of taking an estimated 34,000 cars off the road – and producing significant tax revenue and other economic benefits for the area.
Empire Solar project overview
Planned storage capacity
C02 emission reduction*
160,000 metric tons
*Approximate annual carbon dioxide emissions reduced
Project information is approximate and subject to change
On February 25, 2021, Empire Solar filed a letter with the Secretary to the NYS Public Service Commission (PSC) noticing its election to be subject to Executive Law Section 94-c and stating its intent to file a Transfer Application with the Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES).
Section 94-c (enacted in April 2020) established the ORES within the NYS Department of State to provide a single forum for the environmental review and permitting of proposed major renewable energy facilities. This includes renewable energy systems with a nameplate generating capacity of 25,000 kilowatts or more, co-located energy storage systems, and electric transmission facilities less than 10 miles in length. The final Section 94-c regulations were issued on March 3, 2021 and can be viewed here.
Article 10 applications that have received a completeness determination will be deemed complete under the new 94-c process, while projects currently undergoing the Article 10 siting process can choose to either remain in Article 10 or opt-in to 94-c. The 94-c regulations issued by ORES include an expedited permitting process to account for matters and issues already presented and resolved in the alternate Article 10 proceedings.
Prior to submitting a 94-c permit application, projects are required to consult with the local agencies and stakeholders of the community(ies) in which the proposed project will be located. ORES also requires that state agencies (e.g. NY DEC) are consulted on wetland and stream delineations, threatened and endangered species, and archeological and cultural resources, if appropriate. Agency consultations should take place at the earliest point possible in the applicant’s process.
Following consultations with impacted agencies, 94-c applicants must hold at least one meeting for community members. The Empire Solar Virtual Community Meeting will be held on April 22, 2021.
Outside of the 94-c public comment period and requirements, Empire Solar is committed to ongoing stakeholder and community engagement; including maintaining the “Public Involvement Program (PIP) Plan” log, even though it is not a 94-c requirement.
Documents filed in the Project proceedings may be viewed online at the PSC’s website by clicking “Search” on the homepage and then entering Case Number 20-F-0085 in the field “Search by Case Number”, or by directly visiting the Empire Solar DPS page. Interested parties may subscribe to the service list or request party status for the Empire Solar Project by accessing the Project proceedings via either of the links included above.
How to become an intervenor in the 94-c process
Upon the filing of a 94-c Application, Empire Solar will post an intervenor fund ($1,000/MW) which can be sought by local community intervenors and host towns. 75% of funds are reserved for municipalities.
Any local agency or potential community intervenor seeking funding must submit a request for initial funding within thirty (30) days of the date of application filing. Such requests can be made to:
OR by mail to:
Attention: Request for Local Agency Account Funding
Office of Renewable Energy Siting
Empire State Plaza
240 State Street
P-1 South, J Dock
Albany, NY 12242
If you have questions regarding the intervenor process please contact the ORES office.
PIP Plan materials
Empire Solar DPS Page
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Project Phone Number: 866-757-7697 (866-SLRPOWR)
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