Local Working Group Discussions – Progress Charted February 2022

The 60 MW Shepherd’s Run solar project located in Copake, NY (Project) has engaged with the community for more than three years to understand issues of concern and incorporate suggested improvements to the Project to address those concerns. Hecate is proud of the progress we have made to enhance this important regional project and will continue to work collaboratively with the local community on additional refinements.

In the summer of 2021, an independent group of individuals from Sensible Solar for Rural New York, Friends of Columbia Solar, Columbia Land Conservancy, Scenic Hudson, Cornell University, the Audubon Society, New York State Assembly members, and landscape architects (Working Group) formed to review the Project’s design, landscaping plans, and other Project development components.

On February 8, 2022, the Working Group provided a formal presentation to Hecate’s team. The Working Group’s suggestions are listed below along with what Hecate has done or will commit to do to integrate these suggestions into the Project’s 94c application and development plans.

Below is a representative list of what Hecate has done to date to incorporate stakeholder input to the Project:

  • Reduced total acreage “inside the fence” from 480 to 220 acres, including the removal of panels in the visibly sensitive area south of intersection of County Route 7 and Center Hill Road;
  • Removed battery storage from the Project scope;
  • Included pollinator species planting within the landscaping plan along with regionally specific apiary farming;
  • Worked with the existing farmers to ensure their businesses remain and continue to maintain the rural charm of Copake/Craryville;
  • Incorporated wildlife-friendly fencing instead of chain-link fencing;
  • Avoided direct impacts to all state regulated Class I wetlands and develop a Project with no net loss of wetlands;
  • Included co-utilization plans within panels to incorporate livestock grazing. The current farmers will be given the first opportunity to expand their flocks or herds for this grazing plan;
  • Committed to not source panels from suppliers who utilize forced labor or that contain PFAS;
  • Committed to providing bidding opportunities to local suppliers and using local labor and purchasing when practicable;
  • Increased landscaping buffers after feedback from the Town and Working Group. The current landscaping plan utilizes native and naturalized species and includes approximately 800 trees and 800 shrubs which Hecate will source from local farmers;
  • Collaborated with the Harlem Valley Rail Trail to help support the extension of the trail through the Project and a connection to Hillsdale and Rheinstrom Hill Audubon Center and Sanctuary; and
  • Committed to providing training and funding for the Craryville and Copake fire departments.

Working Group Suggestions and Hecate Energy's Commitments

Suggestions Commitments
Improvements to siting, ecology, and landscape surrounding the solar panels Hecate’s draft landscaping plan is extensive, and will continue to be developed during the 94-c permitting process.
  • During this process, Hecate will work with the Working Group, under mutually agreed parameters, in order to incorporate the Working Group’s design suggestions with Hecate’s schedule, budget and other business objectives.
Agricultural crops, grazing and native pollinator-friendly plantings in the solar fields. Hecate has already included pollinator species seed mixes and plantings within its draft landscaping plan. Hecate has also included sheep grazing within its existing plan.
  • Hecate commits to establishing an initial fenced in panel array as the pilot agrivoltaics trial. Hecate will engage experts in agrivoltaics to develop a plan based on local conditions, desired outcomes, and best practices.
Wetlands restoration and creating new community-accessible green spaces Hecate has protected the wetlands and streams of state and federal significance in the Project’s design.
  • Hecate will work with the Working Group to fine tune how a community green space program can be facilitated.
Responsible sourcing [of panels/equipment] Responsible sourcing [of panels/equipment] US customs procedures include inspections of goods and documents to prohibit NFL products, including requiring paperwork and evidence showing avoidance of Xinjiang materials, where much of NFL polysilicon is sourced.
  • Hecate commits to this.
  • Local hiring and purchasing Local hiring and purchasing This makes sense from scheduling, economic and is better for everyone overall!
    • Hecate commits to providing opportunities to local suppliers and hiring and purchasing local where feasible.
    Local energy benefits – Low-cost renewable energy electricity purchasing for local residents Hecate introduced the concept of forming a local CCA for Columbia County and beyond to participate in lower electricity rates by purchasing power directly from the Project.
    • Hecate commits to continuing this work with the aim of contracting to sell its generated power through a power purchase agreement to the properly structured and established CCA.
    Educational and workforce programs with Taconic Hills Central School (THCS) Hecate began conversations with the Taconic Hills Central School District in early 2021 about many programs Hecate will commit to develop with the schools collaboration.
    • Hecate commits to facilitate or fund these programs to meet the THCS’s objectives and keep the Working Group up to date with progress.
    Full property tax payments for the county, town and school district Hecate will pay the town, school and county an estimate $5-7 million over the 20 year contract term. These figures were developed on utility scale project comparables across the state.
    • Hecate commits to enter into earnest negotiations on Host Community Agreements for the Town and School if a 94-c permit is received.
    Fair compensation to impacted homeowners Fair compensation to impacted homeowners Hecate has created site specific buffers for families that are uniquely impacted. Hecate has also implemented setbacks in accordance with the Copake town law and the 94-c Regulations.
    Local enforcement of community benefits The Project’s operating company will be responsible for implementing the provisions of the 94-c permit, if received. As Hecate commits to the provisions suggested by the Working Group, the 94-c permit will outline those requirements in the permit conditions.
    Blueprint for future renewable energy projects in New York and nationally Hecate commits to this and hopes it becomes a model for the future in New York and nationally
    Find new locations to relocate solar panels off of the 40-acres of existing forested land proposed for clear-cutting and where selective panel removal is required to create configuration for grazing and crop farming beneath/between panels. Hecate has committed to include approximately 800 trees and 800 scrubs in the Project’s landscaping plan. Hecate will perform a detailed greenhouse gas calculation to show the net benefit of installing the Project and how long it will take to negate the loss of the ~29 acres of tress the Project needs to remove. Hecate will ensure best practices are used during the tree/scrub clearing process.
    Redesign landscaping plan to blend with the landscaping design the Working Group is proposing for the surrounding conservation lands – a landscaping plan that complements the existing surroundings. Hecate’s draft landscaping plan will be further refined during the 94-c permitting process.
    • During this process, Hecate will work with the Working Group, under mutually agreed parameters, to marry the Working Group’s design suggestions with Hecate’s schedule, budget and other business objectives.
    Engage a consultant to advise on site design and best practices for agrivoltaics; Identify and engage potential crop and grazing partners; and ensure that design submitted to ORES establishes robust, agrivoltaic plans for the life of the project. Hecate has already included pollinator species plantings within its draft landscaping plan. Hecate has also included sheep grazing within its existing plan.
    • Hecate commits to establishing an initial fenced in panel array as the pilot agrivoltaics trial. Hecate will engage experts in agrivoltaics to develop a plan based on local conditions, desired outcomes, and best practices.
    Determine how Shepherd’s Run can contractually sell bulk electricity to Consumer Choice Aggregate (CCA) programs to be formed by Copake and other Columbia County region towns. Hecate introduced the concept of forming a local CCA for Columbia County and beyond to participate in lower electricity rates by purchasing power directly from the Project.
    • Hecate commits to continuing this work with the aim of contracting to sell its generated power through a power purchase agreement to the properly structured and established CCA.
    Facilitating Rail Trail extension through the project site Hecate will work with the Working Group and HVRT to facilitate this important connection Hecate will work with the Working Group and HVRT to facilitate this important connection
    Tailoring landscaping & plantings for integration with larger plan Hecate’s draft landscaping plan will be further refined during the 94-c permitting process.
    • During this process, Hecate will work with the Working Group, under mutually agreed parameters, in order to marry the Working Group’s design suggestions with Hecate’s schedule, budget and other business objectives.
    Supporting research/agricultural partner access within fences
    Enabling community access through and within buffers . Depending on private landowner feedback and the burden of liability
    Supporting agrivoltaics throughout As stated above, Hecate will include an agrivoltaics pilot project on a fenced in array. The Project’s operating company can expand when timing and resources make sense.
    Funding education programs for Taconic Hills Central School Hecate began conversations with the Taconic Hills Central School District in early 2021 about many programs Hecate will commit to develop with the schools collaboration.
    • Hecate commits to facilitate or fund these programs to meet the THCS’s objectives and keep the Working Group up to date with progress.
    Making tax and homeowner payments Hecate has created site specific buffers for families that are uniquely impacted. Hecate has also implemented setbacks in accordance with the Copake town law and the 94-c Regulations.
    Enter into low-cost power purchase agreement with local CCA or similar Hecate introduced the concept of forming a local CCA for Columbia County and beyond to participate in lower electricity rates by purchasing power directly from the Project.
    • Hecate commits to continuing this work with the aim of contracting to sell its generated power through a power purchase agreement to the properly structured and established CCA.