August 21, 2019
ALBANY, NY – Statement From Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes:
After hearing from numerous community stakeholders, Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes (R,C-Caledonia) is voicing her frustration and concern with the Democratic leadership and the governor’s failure to appoint local members onto siting boards for proposed large-scale solar projects.
Under New York’s Article 10 law, host municipalities of electric generating projects are required to nominate four individuals for consideration as ad hoc members on the siting board. From the list provided by the municipality, the Senate and Assembly are granted the first opportunity to appoint one member each to the siting board. If the Legislature fails to act within the allotted timeframe outlined by the law, the governor is given a window of opportunity to appoint two members from the original list. If the governor fails to appoint anyone as well, a quorum of the five other permanent members, all appointees of the governor, may make the final decision on the project.
Within Byrnes’ district, there are two proposed solar projects underway in which the State has failed to appoint local community members to the siting boards. After municipalities wrote to the Democratic legislative leaders this spring, the leaders and the governor failed to act within the timeframe allotted to them and currently there are no local members on the boards. These projects include the Horseshoes Solar Project encompassing the towns of Caledonia and Rush, and the Morris Ridge Project in the town of Mt. Morris.
Regarding the Morris Ridge Project, the siting board informed Byrnes that the letters were received but no action was taken by the Assembly, Senate or Gov. Cuomo.
Regarding the Horseshoes Solar Project, the siting board informed Byrnes that the project had ‘no nominees and no appointments and what that means is the local county executive and relevant towns did not submit any nominees for consideration.’ However, Livingston County Administrator Ian Coyle, Caledonia Supervisor Dan Pangrazio and Rush Supervisor Cathy Frank all wrote letters to the Democratic leadership in both the Assembly and Senate. There is a certified mail receipt to Speaker Carl Heastie’s office to verify receipt.
This problem is not exclusive to solar projects. In fact, the Baron Wind Project, encompassing Cohocton, Dansville, and Wayland, initially had an individual appointed by the Senate, but he stepped down almost ten months ago. Currently that project also has no local member on the siting board.
“This is outrageous,” said Byrnes. “Legislative leaders in the Majority had 30 days to appoint the individuals picked by the municipalities, and all they did was drag their feet. The Democrats love to talk about transparency and community involvement, but in three out of three major projects in this area, our local communities have no seat at the table. If we don’t provide the siting board with a local perspective and local concerns, the projects could devastate our communities.”
Byrnes plans to introduce legislation requiring that, in the absence of legislative action, the governor must appoint local members to the siting boards. If he fails to do so, he must notify the municipalities involved with an explanation of why he failed to act. Municipalities would also have an opportunity to resubmit recommendations.
Byrnes also cosponsors A.8311, which requires local members to be appointed to siting boards in order to constitute a quorum for any siting board action.