Modified: November 22, 2019 3:02pm
Completion of Solar Liberty project on former landfill site is expected to deliver inexpensive, clean energy to Tonawanda residents
Erie County, NY – After a contentious vote in the Erie County Legislature, an easement for the Solar Liberty project on a former Town of Tonawanda land fill was approved by a 7-3 vote. The resolution involved approval for Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation to run a power line over a small piece of county-owned property adjacent to a town-owned parcel. This approval will provide a power supply to the new solar farm which is being erected on the town’s capped landfill.
Solar Liberty, a local company who installs both residential and commercial solar power systems, took up this abandoned project last year. The easement, which only involves the air space above county property, will allow the company to save millions in federal tax credits, which they will then pass on to Town of Tonawanda residents in the form of reduced utility prices. Because of timing constraints on the expiration of the federal credits, this approval was a time-sensitive matter. Legislators Kevin Hardwick and Lisa Chimera, who jointly represent the Town of Tonawanda, both voted in favor of the resolution and the swift completion of the entire project.
Legislator Kevin Hardwick strongly supported the emergency easement, stating, "Without the tax credits, this project would not be feasible and Town of Tonawanda residents would not enjoy the benefits afforded by low cost, clean solar power. That's why Legislator Chimera and I fought so hard to make sure the easement was granted without the ridiculous million dollar price tag that some legislators wanted for the air space over a narrow piece of county property."
An amendment to the original resolution was proposed by members of the Republican controlled minority caucus, adjusting the county parcel’s price from $1 to $1 million. That measure was voted down by the same margin as the overall vote.
“We should all be in favor of supporting clean, renewable energy and for reusing otherwise unusable space anywhere in Erie County. I am proud of the work the Town of Tonawanda has done and am equally happy to support a project that I believe so strongly in, however I can” said Legislator Lisa Chimera.
For more information on Erie County’s renewable energy initiatives or for information on the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Local Law passed last year, please visit the Department of Environment and Planning’s website at www.erie.gov/environment.