BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETING
County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency
Via Zoom Video Conference
November 17, 2020
Mike Metzger Chairman
Dennis Rak Vice Chairman
Gary Henry Secretary
Steven Thorpe Member
Mark Odell Member
Hans Auer Member
Jay Churchill Member
Kelly Farrell-DuBois Member
Also in attendance:
Mark Geise Administrative Director/CEO
Richard E. Dixon Chief Financial Officer
Gregory L. Peterson, Esq. Counsel
Milan K. Tyler, Esq. Counsel
Carol Rasmussen Business Development Manager
Kristine Morabito Business Development Manager
Kayla Strandburg Controller
Nate Aldrich Special Project Coordinator/Manager
Jeanette Lo Bellow Administrative Assistant
Rosie Strandburg Executive Assistant
Jonathan Rappe CEO of Hanover PV, LLC
Sara Mochrie WSP USA, formerly Ecology and Environment, Inc.
Katherine Herleman WSP USA, formerly Ecology and Environment, Inc.
Scott Thompson WSP USA, formerly Ecology and Environment, Inc.
Sean Fox WSP USA, formerly Ecology and Environment, Inc.
Janine Whiken WSP USA, formerly Ecology and Environment, Inc.
Lisa Rohloff Silver Creek Central School District
Absent Board Member(s):
Meeting was called to order by Mike Metzger, Chairman, at 10:03 a.m.
I would like to call to order the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency’s Board of Directors Meeting. We are on Zoom Conference. It is November 17, 2020 and the time is 10:03 a.m. Roll call. Let the record show there are 8 members present. I will entertain a motion to approve the October 27, 2020 minutes.
So moved Mr. Chairman.
Motion made by Mark and seconded by Jay. Any discussion, changes or comments? All those in favor?
Now for New Business. The first order is the discussion of large solar projects. I will let our Executive Director, Mark Geise start this off.
Introduced team from WSP, formerly known as Ecology and Environment, Inc.
Sara Mochrie, Katherine Herleman, Scott Thompson, Sean Fox and Janine Whiken
Thanked Board for reaching out to them. Provided introduction of their firm, their individual expertise and the services they provide. Provided and reviewed a Power Point that is meant to serve as a resource. Power Point covered environmental topics considered for large scale solar projects, an overview of batter storage systems, common public concerns for large scale renewable projects, resources for training, local law guidance, decommissioning and site restoration, and compatibility with agriculture.
Thanked Sara and her team. Requested that Power Point be shared with Board Members. Let me open it up it up to the Board Members for questions. Any questions from the Board Members?
Is three enough sunlight in Western New York to make these panels worthwhile and what happens when they get covered with snow, will someone have to come out there to remove the snow?
There is absolutely enough solar resource in Western New York. Provided locations on other projects they are working on that also have adequate sun. As for the snow, there are a few factors. Discussed the angle on the panels, which would allow snow to slide off and the need for someone to actually remove the snow in the event of heavy snowfall.
To add to that, we’ve talked to Isaac Phillips from ConnectGen and they were required to do a yearlong study of the solar resources and to make the case that there was enough solar.
To follow-up on that, the bank requires those studies for financing. They measure the snowfall, the pollen accumulation, dust, wind, rain, everything. They measure to make sure that the bank or equity group is comfortable financing these. Like Mark said, they do up to one year on solar panels but on wind projects, it’s more like 4 years of studying.
That is right. Over the last decade, though these are natural resources, sun and wind, it’s become a pretty exact science.
And the wind is far more variable so that is why the term of the testing is much longer. Solar is pretty consistent from year to year.
Any other questions?
More of a comment than a question. With these projects comes a great deal of misinformation that is gathered from unreliable sources. Outreach and education is the most critical thing to make these projects work well. So anything we can do to continue the education on projects like this will make everyone’s life a little easier.
I would like to add that a wonderful resource you have in your community Johnathan Mayr, Clean Energy Community Coordinator, with the Southern Tier West Regional Planning and Development Board. If you have general questions, I highly suggest reaching out to him. He is in charge of helping communities with the clean energy program.
Thank you. Any other questions? Thanked WSP for their participation in today’s meeting. Katherine provide a map of the solar installations by county. I’m going to move to New Business B, Hanover PV, LLC, presented by Kristine and Milan.
At the October IDA Board meeting we reviewed the Public Hearing transcript, including the one written comment from the public. At that meeting the agencies SEQRA Resolution was passed. We have continued to do due diligence and today before you we have a Deviation Resolution and a Final Resolution. Noted that Deviation Notices were distributed to the affected taxing jurisdictions, by mail and email, with an invitation to participate in today’s meeting or provide written comments. Provided an overview of the project and request of incentives, jobs affected/created, and the corporation with the Town. Milan, would you like to review the resolution?
Confirmed that the PILOT would be for 25 years. The first order of business is the public of the Deviation Hearing. Is there any members of the affected taxing jurisdiction who would like to be heard on the topic of these proposed deviation of the UTEP?
Lisa Rohloff was on the waiting list but has since disconnected.
Let’s officially open the Deviation Hearing and see if there are any members of the public who would like to be heard.
There is no one else on line/in the waiting room.
Then we can close the Deviation Hearing. Is that correct Milan?
Ok, thank you. Please continue.
Reviewed the two resolutions being presented to the Board.
Thank you Milan. Dennis can you please move new Business B 1?
11-17-20-01 Hanover PV, LLC PILOT Deviation Approval Resolution.
Do I have a second?
Motion made by Dennis and seconded by Steven. Further discussion.
Thanked mark and Staff for getting E&E involved. As you know we had discussions last week with the Planning and Economic Development Committee which was productive but E&E was unable to participate. I hope a lot more of this information was presented today. This was needed education and outreach is key. Just for the record, I am not against renewable energy projects, I have been designing these for decades, heavy integrations, and even championed our clean energies program through NYSERDA and that was great respect to Katherine Herleman, who spoke here today, as one of the original coordinators. I feel the existing and potential subsidies and tax breaks are really huge in comparison to any potential long term employment or economic gains here in Chautauqua County. I am not against the technology by any means. Renewables are great but it is the subsidies that I am against. Spoke of previous projects that the IDA has been a part of that have been successful and have helped our portfolio shine.
Thank you Mark, appreciate your comments. Any other discussion? Seeing none, I will ask for a roll call vote please.
7 in the affirmative and 1 negative from Mark Odell.
Let the record show there are 7 votes in the affirmative with one negative, motion carried. Gary henry, could you please move new business B 2.
11-17-20-02 Hanover PV, LLC Final Resolution
Thank you. Do I have a second?
Motion made by Gary and seconded by Steven. Any further discussion? Seeing none. I will call for a roll call vote please.
7 Votes in the affirmative with 1 negative by Mark Odell.
Let the record show there are 7 votes in the affirmative with one negative, motion carried. I want to mention we will be skipping the Treasurers Report today. I will move to the Executive Directors Report.
I did want to inform the Board that the County Legislature is contemplating amending the resolution that was passed in 2018 that urges the IDA not to approve PILOTs for large wind farms. They are contemplating amending it to include solar projects greater than 5 megawatts. I don’t know when that might occur. I spoke at the PED meeting last week and basically summarized the memo that I sent out to the Board about what the regulatory requirements are, what the pros and cons are, and tried to be very level and balanced in the presentation. Last night I sent out an email from ConnectGen, which was in response to Brad Walter’s question. Brad asked about the cost of electricity generated by solar. He basically concluded that it is less than the levelized cost of coal and gas. He also had a question about what is the planned vs the actual generation of energy in these projects. ConnectGen again stated that there is really no difference because they do this one year, onsite solar resources data study and they are basically bound to deliver what they promised. Mark Odell had asked about us doing a postop for the Cortland E2I Ventures project and that was a 200 kilowatt, which is 1.5 acres, small solar, but we have not gotten back the information yet. We hope to have a response by December. We also have ConnectGen Brochures that we will mailing to each Board members, about the Riley Solar project. I also sent out a memo to the Board about the regulatory compliance pros and cons on large solar. One last thing I wanted to state, we will have to see what we do with our office staff. We want to see what happens with COVID-19. We may have to go back to some level of working more from home. Right now we are doing a fair share of working from the office and are being very careful but I wanted you to know that we will take that as it comes and we may need to change it. Does anyone have any questions or comments?
Please air on the side of safety and caution, which I know you will. Any questions for Mark?
Mark talked about the electrical update from the developers. Rosie can you please share your screen and share the debriefing from Arkwright Summit Wind Farm. Shared details on the project, from information provided on the fact sheet. 78.4 megawatt project. Of the 3 projects that the IDA Board has approved, this is the smallest one. Cassadaga Wind Farm is a 120 megawatt and the Ball Hill project is a 100 megawatt. The project is generating enough power for 33,000 NYS homes, it represents an investment of $125 million, through 2019 they have paid $780,000 to the local government, which is PILOT payment and Host Agreement payment. So that money was split between the county, town and school. In addition, through 2019, land owners have received over a million dollars in payments for the lease of their land. They created 80 full-time equivalent jobs during construction and 3 permanent jobs during the life of the project. They do not put a lot of strain on the public utilities, infrastructure or the school system, or the fire department. They spent $4.6 million dollars within 50 miles of the project, through 2019. Bloomberg and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority receive energy from Arkwright Summit, so they have a power purchase agreement between those two entities. They save water and are compatible with farming. I, mark and Kayla visited with Cassadaga Wind Farm. The day we were there they have 282 full time equivalents working at the site, with 60% of them being local. The wind farms require a lot of expertise. There are 6 wheel cranes in the world and one of them was on the Arkwright job, which is run by the Irish crew, who were staying in local hotels and spending locally, so that is the economic impact. Cassadaga has already made their first PILOT payment. $504,000 was collected and distributed to the local taxing jurisdictions; county, school and towns and the project isn’t even completed yet, so they agreed to pay their PILOT upfront. We talked about 280 construction jobs, they made payments of $37,000 to the town before they even started construction, and the town will receive $14 million alone. The town of Arkwright will receive $14 million over 25 years, the land owners since the start of construction have received $1.7 million in payments, and payments to land owners during operations, over the 25 years will be over $21 million and payments to the county will total $11.6 million. They are confident that they will be producing as much power as they have said.
60% of those 280 construction workers are local, within a 50 mile radius of the site.
The only other thing I wanted to say was when Amazon didn’t get called in to Grand Island, Mark and I were inundated with calls from legislatures and others who wanted us to get Amazon here and I think what an unfortunate message we would be sending as a county if we blanketly rejected large solar and large wind projects. I am going to read you some companies that in 2019 receive 100% of their electric from green power, through power purchase agreements; Google, Microsoft, Apple, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Starbucks, Sysco, Goldman Sachs, The Bank of New York, Netflix, American Express and many more. Amazon currently purchases 42% of their power through green power, with the goal of being at 100% by 2025. Cummins, one of our largest employers is at 43% with their goal to be at 100%. People do read the Post Journal and other local media and they see these things that may be blaketly passed and I just can’t tell you how much damage that will do if the County Legislature goes ahead with that.
Thank you Rich. Do we have any business for Executive Session?
We do not.
Ok, in hearing that do we have any other business to come before the Board? Seeing none, we are adjourned.
Meeting adjourned at 11:01 a.m.
(Assistant) Secretary (Vice) Chairman