RESPECTING OUR SURROUNDINGS
Wetlands and Water Resources
The Skaneateles Solar Project is located on a 32-acre portion of an 86.9-acre parcel that has gently to moderately sloping topography. Two ponds are located at the front of the property and two wetlands are in the rear forested section of the property. The wetlands and waters are protected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. The Town of Skaneateles also requires a setback from these important resources to further ensure their protection, which the Project is adhering to. The area of the proposed solar facility avoids the ponds and the wetlands. No streams or drainage features are located on the site.
Wildlife and Wildlife Habitat
The Project area is an agricultural field that does not support many wildlife species or provide high-value wildlife habitat. The western portion of the Project parcel is forested and based on consultation with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and US Fish and Wildlife Service has no known occurrences of rare, threatened, or endangered species or critical habitat. The proposed solar facility avoids the forested area and will not impact local wildlife or wildlife habitat. After construction, pollinator friendly vegetation will be planted within the Project area that will attract pollinating insects, such as bees, which have been declining in population.
Soils, Vegetation, and Agriculture
The Project area is composed of existing agricultural fields, forest, and a single-family residence. The project will be sited on the existing farm field and therefore minimal tree clearing will be required. Within the solar array, a low-growing seed mix will be used. This mix may be comprised of warm- and cool-season grasses that do not typically exceed a height of two feet, thus eliminating any concerns for shading.
The Skaneateles Solar will use agricultural land only during the useful life of the Project (approximately 30 years) after which it will be returned to a condition that can be farmed. Soils are depleted of nutrients when land is continuously farmed, and fertilizers must be applied on an annual basis to continually grow crops. A common practice in agriculture is to allow fields to rest in fallow periods that can range from one to five years. This allows the land to recover and store organic matter while retaining moisture and disrupting the lifecycles of pathogens by temporarily removing their hosts. The lifespan of a solar farm is essentially a long fallow period and gives soils time to rest and replenish important nutrients.
The Project will not increase stormwater runoff, as existing drainage patterns will be maintained to the maximum extent practicable and minimal grading and impervious surfaces are proposed. Therefore, no significant changes to the rate or volume of stormwater runoff are anticipated as a result of Project operations. However, if necessary, precautionary and appropriate post-construction Best Management Practices (BMPs) will be installed and maintained according to the Project-specific NYSDEC approved stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPPP) for the Project. BMPs include erosion and sediment control methods such as, vegetative and structural measures, construction phasing and disturbance limits, waste management and spill prevention, and site inspection and maintenance.
Lacking any substantive waterways and being well above Skaneateles Lake, the Project is not located in a floodplain.
KEEPING A QUIET PRESENCE
The natural terrain and vegetation plus proposed landscaping will screen the most of project from view. A visual impact assessment (VIA) has been conducted for the Project that analyzes the visibility of the project from roadways, adjacent properties, and publicly accessible locations. Evergreen landscape buffer plantings are proposed in areas of project visibility and photosimulations of pre-construction and post-construction conditions have been prepared.
Loudness of common items (dB)
No Data Found
The project will not substantially increase noise levels at the property boundary. Like any other energy-generating or industrial facility, solar facilities must be designed and operated to be compliant with state and municipal noise regulations. Components of solar facilities that generate sound include inverters and transformers. Solar panels produce direct current (DC) electrical power that must be converted to alternating-current (AC) to be transferred to the grid. This conversion process is done by an inverter. The transformers in the solar facility are used to step-up the voltage for easier transmission into the local electrical grid. These sound sources only operate only during the day when electricity is produced by the solar panels.
According to a Study of Acoustic and EMF Levels from Solar Photovoltaic Projects by The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, sound levels along the fenced boundary of PV arrays are generally at background levels and any sound from the PV array and equipment was inaudible at set back distances of 50 to 150 feet from the boundary. The Project is not expected to produce noise that would adversely impact the neighbors. Together, the sound at the property line is estimated to approximate that of a typical human conversation, or between 50 and 65 decibels. With the setback of surrounding houses, the site should be inaudible to area residences.
Construction and Operation
INSTALLATION PROCESS AND PROPER MAINTENANCE
Operation and Maintenance
The solar array, inverters, transformers, and all safety systems are fully automated and remotely monitored through an electronic system 24/7 and do not require constant on-site supervision or manual operation. As described below, the Project requires only periodic inspections, servicing, and maintenance, conducted by dedicated crews, per schedule or as needed.
Beyond the construction period, the Project requires very minimal on-site personnel. Regularly occurring management operations include landscaping (mowing and vegetation management) and annual inspections of the mechanical and electric installations and equipment. All these operations are performed by small crews and do not generate notable noise or traffic that is uncommon for an agricultural-residential or residential neighborhood.
During its normal operation, the solar installation:
- will not generate significant vehicle traffic
- will not generate any gas emissions
- will not generate waste
- will not require discharge of wastewater
- will not pose a risk of any contamination of air, soil, or water resources
- will not generate noise that would exceed the accepted standards
A RESPONSIBLE RETURN TO ITS ORIGINAL STATE
Utility-scale solar panels available on the market today are typically designed to last for at least 30 years and Skaneateles Solar will continually maintain the solar arrays and related equipment for the life of the Project. At the end of its useful life, the Project may be renewed or it may permanently cease operations, at which time the Project removal plan (approved by the Town of Skaneateles) will be implemented to remove, reuse, and/or recycle equipment and related materials to return the Project area to its pre-construction condition so that it is available for agriculture and other open space usages as determined by the landowner at that time.
The removal of the Project is, in many ways, the reverse of its construction. Much of the same equipment that was used in the construction of the Project, such as trucks and backhoes, will again be used in the removal of the components. Steel, cable, and concrete will be removed and transported off-site for recycling and/or disposal at approved facilities. Licensed off-site disposal facilities will be identified at that time, as the availability of facilities is likely to change in the decades during the Project’s useful life. The removal of the facility at the end of its useful life and the site restoration are guaranteed by Skaneateles Solar through a bond, whereby the Town of Skaneateles is the beneficiary. It is also important to mention that it is in the interest of the Skaneateles Solar to recycle the bulk of the materials and equipment, which are projected to have a higher salvage value than the total cost of the removal and restoration.