Lockport approves solar project over neighborhood opposition

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The Lockport Common Council voted 4-2 Wednesday night to grant a permit to a company that plans a solar power project in what are now agricultural fields on the south side of Summit Street.

The site, long owned by the Ruhlmann family, is leased to OYA Solar NY of Toronto.

The project, covering nearly 14 acres with a maximum capacity of 7.12 megawatts of electricity, isn’t large enough to trigger the state’s review process that promises automatic approval a year after an application is completed.

That required the Council to vote. Council President Mark S. Devine and Alderman Joseph P. Oates voted no.

Almost every lawn on Summit Street sports a yard sign opposing the project, and a petition opposing it also was sent to City Hall.

The plan requires the company to post a decommissioning bond, totaling $352,000, to remove the solar panels after the projected life of 35 years, or within a year if it shuts down sooner than that.

John J. Ottaviano, attorney for OYA Solar, said the company intends to apply to the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency for a 15-year payment-in-lieu of taxes agreement that would benefit the city, county and Lockport City School District.

Under the company’s proposal, the city would pocket 34% of the annual payment, the county 16% and the school 50%.

OYA Solar offered the city the option of taking annual payments that would start at $9,700 a year and grow to nearly $13,000 by the 15th year, or settling for a lump sum of about $96,000. The Council didn’t vote on which option it might select.

Ottaviano said OYA Solar has leased the acreage on Summit Street for 15 years with two renewal options thereafter.

Published by The Buffalo News

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