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600+ acre Tyre solar project draws more criticism: Will NYS listen?

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  • Staff Report 

A proposed solar energy project in Seneca County has drawn scrutiny from state officials and local residents, including state Sen. Tom O’Mara, who voiced significant concerns about its impact on prime farmland. The project, spearheaded by Delaware River Solar, aims to establish a 128-megawatt solar energy facility across 675 acres in the town of Tyre. Local opposition centers on environmental implications and the loss of agricultural land, prompting Tyre Supervisor Elizabeth Partee to appeal directly to Governor Kathy Hochul over potential community harm.

During a recent environmental conservation budget hearing, O’Mara highlighted the project’s encroachment on essential farmland and its proximity to wildlife refuges, questioning New York Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball on the state’s role in safeguarding agricultural interests. Ball outlined an inter-agency collaboration aimed at mitigating the conversion of farmland for solar projects, suggesting a balance between renewable energy development and farmland preservation by compensating for the utilized agricultural land elsewhere.

RELATED: Tyre residents rally against proposed 600 acre solar farm – “We’ve had absolutely no voice in the process”

The fate of the solar facility now lies with the state Office of Renewable Energy Siting, bypassing local jurisdiction due to its capacity exceeding 25 megawatts. Despite receiving a conditional renewable energy award from the state, the project’s location continues to spark debate over the prioritization of renewable energy expansion against agricultural preservation. Sen. O’Mara advocates for alternative sites, such as the Seneca Army Depot, to prevent the loss of valuable farmland.