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Article 10 Says Sayonara to SEQRA For Large Scale Wind and Solar Projects

Article 10 prescribes a new approval process for large scale renewable energy projects that alters the role of the town board.

If it seems like there has been a noticeable uptick in the number of wind and solar energy projects being proposed lately, you are right! There has been an increased interest in renewable energy in New York State as a result of goals established by Governor Cuomo to meet 50% of the State’s energy needs by the year 2030 using renewable resources, such as solar and wind energy.

So what exactly is Article 10? Article 10 is a section of the New York State Public Service Law dealing with the generation of electric energy, including solar and wind energy. It stipulates that projects that generate 25 megawatts or more of electricity (roughly the amount to meet the average power needs of 22,500 households) will be governed by the Article 10 approval process rather than the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process. It is a relatively new regulation, passed in 2011.

Recently, 12 solar energy projects have been proposed and are in the initial stages of the Article 10 process. Of the 15 wind energy projects which have been navigating through Article 10 since 2012, only one has been approved so far.

LaBella is currently involved with three of the wind energy projects in earlier stages: two in the Pre-Application stage and one in the Application stage.

Wind or solar energy projects generating less than 25 megawatts are still regulated under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). While both processes include opportunities for municipal and public input, there are big differences in procedure:

  • Under Article 10, the decision to approve or disapprove the project rests primarily in the State’s hands through a “Siting Board” organized by the NYS Department of Public Service (members include 5 State Agency officials and 2 local appointees). The process is run very much like a legal proceeding and overseen by three Administrative Law Judges, almost like a trial without the court room.
  • Under SEQRA, a municipality like a Town oversees the review process and decides whether the project should be approved or not. The process would likely feel more familiar to residents and unfolds in a manner similar to many other Town Board decision-making processes.

LaBella has been a leader in understanding the Article 10 process. We know how confusing it can be to navigate through ever-changing rules and regulations and have been successful in helping municipalities and their communities understand the intricacies of Article 10. For more information on the new regulations, contact us today!