94-c Permitting Process & Riverhead Solar 2
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 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. Riverhead Solar 2 elected to opt-in to 94-c, filing notice of its election on November 25, 2020, and its Transfer Application on January 8, 2021. Because an application completeness determination for Riverhead Solar 2 was issued in the Project’s Article 10 proceedings, the Transfer Application was deemed complete upon filing.
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. Riverhead Solar 2 completed all necessary consultations prior to submission of its Transfer Application. Following consultations with impacted agencies, 94-c applicants must hold at least one meeting for community members. The Riverhead Solar 2 Virtual Community Info Session was held on August 4, 2021, and a recording of this meeting is available here.
Outside of the 94-c public comment period and community meeting requirements, Riverhead Solar 2 is committed to ongoing stakeholder and community engagement, including regular availability via the project email (email@example.com) and weekly virtual office hours via the AES NY toll-free number (866-757-7697), as well as a continued commitment to the “Public Involvement Program (PIP) Plan” filed under Article 10, even though it is not a 94-c requirement.
With the filing of its Transfer Application on January 8, 2021, Riverhead Solar 2 submitted a fee ($1,000 per MW) to ORES which was deposited into a local agency account for local agencies and potential community intervenors to use to participate in public comment periods or hearings. Within 30 days of the date of the Transfer Application filing (from January 8 to February 8, 2021), any local agency or potential community intervenor had the opportunity to request funding from the local agency account by making such request to the Office of Renewable Energy Siting.
No later than 60 days following the filing of a Transfer Application, ORES was required to issue a combined notice of availability of draft permit conditions and provide additional details regarding the public comment period and public comment hearing, and issues determination process. The Draft Permit for Riverhead Solar 2 was issued on March 9, 2021, and details are included in the ‘Permitting Updates’ section above.
ORES will be required to make a final decision on the application within one year of the Application submission, in accordance with 94-c. More information on the 94-c process and timeline is included in the recording of the Riverhead Solar 2 Information Session, held on August 4, 2020.
Documents filed in the 94-c Project proceedings may be viewed online by visiting the Riverhead Solar 2 DMM (Matter Number 21-00024). Interested parties may subscribe to the service list or request party status for the Riverhead Solar 2 Project by accessing the Project proceedings via the link above.
If you have any questions regarding the 94-c permitting process, please contact the ORES office at: firstname.lastname@example.org