BYRON, N.Y. (WROC) — Progress is being made regarding the advancement of solar energy in our region after the New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment approved the development of a $345 million solar farm in the Town of Byron in Genesee County.

While this solar farm is expected to be a beneficial addition to the electric generation capacity of the state, the idea came with some concerns from the community.

It’s the largest solar farm ever approved in New York and will be developed by Excelsior Energy Center in Genesee County later this year. The 280-megawatt project will have an area expanding over 3,400 acres and is expected to help advance the state’s aggressive clean energy and climate goals, including 70% of electricity coming from renewable energy sources by 2030.

Approval for the solar farm was followed after a detailed review with five active parties.

Two out of the five groups including the Department of Agriculture and Markets and a local intervener group known as the Byron Association Against Solar expressed their concerns about the project.

Judge Gregg Sayre stated these concerns.

“The use of agricultural land, particularly prime farmland, the impact of the project on the character of the community as a result of its size and visual impact and the alleged noncompliance of the project nor with local laws but with The Town Byron and Genesee county comprehensive plans,” said Sayre. 

While it would seem that the push for cleaner energy would be a no-brainer, that it would be beneficial for everyone in terms of long-term climate solutions, the “not in my backyard” mentality often plays a role in where things like solar farms often end up. 

Tammy Mitchel, Director at New York State Department of Public Service stated, “I believe that the proposed draft order granting a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need for the Excelsior solar generating facility is well balanced and avoids or mitigates impacts to the extent practical.”

The board believes the solar farm will benefit New Yorkers by reducing reliance on fossil fuels and boosting a clean-energy environment will accomplish the state’s climate goals while having as little impact and detriment to local farmland as possible. 

For more information about this project, see the project’s full press release here.