Editor’s Note: This editorial was submitted in response to a recent story published on FingerLakes1.com. It was written by Kate Millar, who serves as project developer of Horseshoe Solar and is Manager at Invenergy LLC.
A recent story published by FingerLakes1.com on February 18 alleged that human remains were found on the proposed site of the Horseshoe Solar project and that the Indian Nations were “ignored” during and throughout the consultation process. Both claims are false and premised on a distortion of the facts.
The fact is that since 2018, Invenergy has coordinated research, surveying and consultation of Horseshoe Solar’s proposed project site in Caledonia and Rush in close consultation with the Indian Nations and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). The fact is that two independent, highly qualified experts confirmed that no human remains were discovered on the proposed project site.
Here are some more facts: In September 2020, Invenergy began coordinating archaeological field surveys (known as the Phase 1B survey) on land where the proposed Horseshoe Solar project may be sited. This was done specifically to avoid the potential of impacting cultural resources, and to provide confidence and clarity on previously reported sites of significance in the area. From the onset of this work, Invenergy worked with the Indian Nations and the SHPO to ensure surveying was conducted in a respectful, comprehensive manner, and to establish clear protocols to protect the areas. Surveying included minimally invasive methodologies to protect project sites.
The February 18 story claims that the Phase 1B survey did not provide an opportunity for an archeological monitor. This is not true. Invenergy in fact invited the Tonawanda Seneca Nation and Seneca Nation to visit the site and observe the surveying process with their own archeological monitors to ensure transparency.
In September 2020, surveyors observed animal bones on the surface of a field near a barn, along with one that required further analysis to reach a conclusive determination. Following the protocol established with SHPO, the surveyors brought an outside expert to evaluate that bone. The expert confirmed that all observed bones were animal bones. This conclusion was corroborated by a second outside expert, Dr. Thomas A. Crist, a forensic anthropologist who was recommended by SHPO. Dr. Crist confirmed that the findings were definitively not human. Despite these independent conclusions, in response to concerns from the Indian Nations, Horseshoe Solar nevertheless excluded this area from further consideration in the project.
The field surveying process for Horseshoe Solar was completed and publicly filed in the Phase 1B report in December 2020. Out of respect and consideration for the wishes of the Tonawanda Seneca Nation and the Seneca Nation, and following the recommendations of the end-of-fieldwork summary, the Horseshoe Solar project design was modified to avoid locations that were identified as culturally sensitive and where previously reported sites were more accurately located. As the story notes, but attempts to dismiss, this included proactively removing more than 70 acres from the project site where culturally sensitive areas were confirmed.
This was the right and prudent measure for the project to take and should be held up not for derision, but as a demonstration of the high degree of professionalism, collaboration and effort made by countless individuals and the many State agencies to ensure the Horseshoe Solar project is sited in an appropriate manner.
Invenergy and Horseshoe Solar remain committed to transparency on this important project and to ensuring the accuracy of the facts put forward. We look forward to continuing our close consultation with with the Nations, SHPO and the local community to deliver emission-free, homegrown energy for New York and supporting the State’s nation-leading climate goals.
– Kate Millar