To: Compass Inbox
From: Mark Kilmer, President/CEO Fulton-Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce
New York State has established ambitious clean energy targets and meeting these goals requires the construction of new sources of power like wind and solar. Communities that take advantage of this new economic development activity will benefit from job creation, new municipal revenue, and support for farms.
With the right mix of infrastructure and open space, our region is uniquely positioned to capitalize on this opportunity. The High River Energy Center that was recently approved demonstrates how these benefits can be delivered to our towns, school districts, and counties.
Businesses gravitate to this area due to its proximity to the thruway, and a clean energy investment is drawn to areas with the right electrical infrastructure. The 115 kV transmission line that passes through the towns of Amsterdam, Florida and Mohawk in Montgomery County is a perfect example.
This economic resource is a reason why facilities like the High River Energy Center have been proposed here. The investment is substantial as the project has a $13 million budget for local New York expenditures during construction. This budget includes $9.8 million for labor alone that will produce a significant number of jobs. This comes at an ultimate time, as many are looking for opportunities to get back to work.
The construction of solar projects in our area will also provide local workforce with on-the-job training. This experience can be used across the region and New York State, to help meet clean energy goals.
Using the High River Energy Center as a reference is instructive. This 90 MW facility will create 87 full-time equivalent jobs during construction. Once operational, the project will hire three to four local employees.
Solar energy development also delivers needed revenue for our communities. In many cases, this revenue is provided through a Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement. These agreements provide our communities with a reliable source of income that is far greater than revenue currently produced by the land utilized for a project.
In the case of the High River Energy Center, the project is expected to provide approximately $11.4 million in new revenue over the project’s 20-year life. Once operational, High River will immediately contribute 20 times more per acre in property taxes to the Town of Florida, Montgomery County, and The Greater Amsterdam School District compared to what is currently paid today.
And importantly, solar energy production supports farmers. Farming is a competitive industry. This new low-impact use of the land provides a reliable income stream that sustains local farms while allowing these businesses to continue working the rest of their land. Solar development is not permanent and has a benign impact on the underlying land.
Through land agreements, the High River Energy Center will help diversify income at local farms that employ approximately 40 people. The project will also set aside funds to remove the project and substantially restore the land to its previous state once it is no longer needed.
Clean solar energy produced in our communities will benefit the planet and combat the threat of climate change. These are ambitious goals that become more compelling when combined with significant local benefits. If you support job creation, farming, new municipal revenue and a vibrant economy open to new opportunities, we ask that you join Fulton Montgomery Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce and welcome solar development for our future.
Editor’s Note: Here are links for further reading on the High River Energy Center project, which is planned to be built in the Town of Florida: