Solar Project Takes Another Step At Ripley | News, Sports, Work

RIPLEY — At their May meeting, Ripley City Council members learned from Attorney Ben Wisniewski that the revised ConnectGen Permit Application had been deemed completed by the Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES).

This allows the proposed Ripley South Solar Project closer to becoming a reality, Wisniewski said. ORES now has 60 days to draft a permit, which will then be submitted to Ripley and Chautauqua County for review.

Wisniewski notes that a draft permit can contain “specified condition” which are general conditions that apply to projects of this kind, or ORES may include certain conditions “If they think there is a unique local problem that needs to be addressed.”

In a related matter, Wisniewski also updated board members on the Clean Choice Solar Energy Project. LaBella’s analysis determined that the project was on track to complete the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR). Cities may be able to agree on a SEQR at their June meeting, he said.

In other businesses, board members approve three resolutions. The first is to approve Ingalls Planning & Design to complete a comprehensive plan project. City Superintendent Doug Bowen received authorization to sign the required agreement.

Bowen also introduced a resolution to approve a planning study proposal submitted by Clark, Patterson, Lee. The planning study was funded by a $30,000 Engineering Planning Grant from the state Environmental Facility Company. The city contributed a matching grant of $6,000 for this research.

City council members also approved a resolution introduced by Bowen seeking a $25,000 grant from the state Department of Agriculture and Markets. The grant, which will include a matching grant of $8,333 from the city, is designed to create a farmland protection plan, Bowen said. He added that the city’s share of costs could be reduced by in-kind services.

Board members also hold public hearings to review the revision of the Battery Energy Storage System. The hearing will be held on June 9 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

The BESS Act has been under discussion for several months. Bowen said the board “decided to reduce.” The law would allow only tier 1 battery storage, he said. This is a battery system that can be placed in individual homes.

The law will not allow tier 2 and 3 storage systems, Bowen said. This is a system that will be deployed in a business or commercial setting.

On a lighter note, Bowen proposed sending a letter to third graders at Ripley Central School, thanking them for their work cleaning up the area around the playground as part of their Earth Day celebration.

In another case, Highway Supervisor Jim Spacht told council members that a culvert by a substation had to be replaced because it collapsed. The project will cost about $30,000, he said.

Spacht noted, however, that about 100 feet of culverts ran through the property owner’s yard and he questioned whether City was responsible for that section of the culvert. Bowen said he would refer the matter to the city attorney.

The board also approved the hiring of Cody Berg for the water/sewer worker position. Bowen said Berg has experience in plumbing, excavation, heavy equipment use and computer skills.

“I’m sure he’ll fit in.” he says.

A memorandum of understanding was also approved by the board with the state Tax and Finance Office to assist the city in finalizing the assessment update.

“There is a lack of uniformity of judgment,” Bowen said.

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