YOUR STORIES: Town of Conquest neighbors divided over proposed solar farm

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CONQUEST, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)–  One of the largest proposed solar farms in New York State may be going up in the small Cayuga County town of Conquest. 

Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources is proposing a nearly 2,000-acre project to bring 200 megawatts of solar panels to farmlands in the town. 

This project is one of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) projects that was selected for the 2019 procurement process according to NextEra project director, Kris Scornavacca. 

Creating more solar farms across the state is just one-way NYSERDA is working to achieve 70% renewable energy by 2030 among other goals. 

But the project is causing division among Conquest neighbors. 

Long-time resident Eugene Moretti is against the project because he believes it would industrialize their quiet and for the most part, untouched community. 

“We were never a partner, we were never consulted, there was never any outreach to say come here Conquest, come here citizens of Conquest this is something we want you to be a part of this, we want you to sign on,” Moretti said. 

Moretti is a part of a group called Conquest Against Industrial Solar who is against construction. He said this project was imposed on them and wishes the town had a say in whether it would be approved or not, but under state law, these types of projects are not subject to local government approval. 

Scornavacca believes this project won’t just help New York State reach its clean energy goals but will benefit the local community. 

“This is a project that can bring tremendous benefits to the community in the form of a significant number of jobs, 200 plus jobs, a significant amount of new revenue goes to the town of Conquest, the school districts and the county in the form of millions of dollars in the project’s lifetime,” he said.

The proposed array layout from NextEra Energy Resources

But Moretti said he’s content with the way their schools and local government currently operate and don’t see a need for added revenue.  

Those in favor of the project are the landowners who are interested in leasing their land to NextEra including Edward Primrose, Larry Waterman, and Steven Reitz. 

They said as they get older and as farming and agriculture continue to modernize, this option to lease their land will help them ensure their families are taken care of well past their lifetime. 

“We have all worked all our lives to own the land and the property that we’ve owned. We’ve given up a lot of things to do that and I understand people’s concerns to an extent but it’s not their position to tell me what to do with my property,” Primrose said.

NextEra will hold a public information meeting on July 19 at 7 pm at the Conquest Municipal Offices.

Their application for approval by the state’s Department of Public Service’s Siting Board has been submitted and Scornavacca said it will take between 12-18 months for approval. If the project is approved they will aim to break ground at the end of 2022 and construction would be completed in 2023.

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