New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has unveiled a lease-option agreement for the first “Build-Ready” site in New York. 

Under the agreement, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) will work closely with the host communities and through New York’s Clean Energy Resources and Development Incentive “Build-Ready” Program to repurpose the formerly mined land in St. Lawrence County into one of the largest solar projects in Adirondack Park.

The agreement reflects the goals of New York’s new siting law and accelerates progress toward Cuomo’s goal for 70% of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030 under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

“The repurposing of this former mine in the Adirondack Park represents the innovative thinking that we need to put into action in order to compete in a green energy economy,” says Cuomo. “As we rebuild and reimagine our economy, projects like this will go a long way in helping us reach our renewable energy goals while creating opportunities for economic growth and fostering cleaner, healthier communities across New York.”

The land-lease agreement was executed by NYSERDA with Benson Mines Inc., with support from the town of Clifton, the Clifton-Fine Economic Development Corporation, St. Lawrence County and the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency (IDA). Located on the northwest edge of Adirondack Park, the approximately 20 MW BR Benson Mines Solar project will be built on the remnants of Benson’s former iron ore mining operation spanning approximately 130 acres.

Achieving this milestone enables the next phase of community engagement and project planning activities, such as pre-application permit consultations and filing an interconnection request. Additionally, NYSERDA will host a public input session on May 25, to encourage broader public involvement in the project.

NYSERDA will work with community leaders, business partners and regional partner agencies to explore different community benefit options, such as payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements, opportunities for workforce development and job training programs, and offer free technical assistance along the way. NYSERDA will also collaborate closely with the town to ensure the project complements the community’s long-term planning, including development considerations for the neighboring J&L Steel site, to help create new local revenue and attract additional economic development opportunities to the area.

This project site was advanced as part of the first suite of sites being considered under the BR program and announced in Cuomo’s 2021 State of the State. Local community members, elected officials, private companies, environmental justice communities or other interested parties are encouraged to nominate potential BR locations, which will be considered on a rolling basis, through its request for information issued last July.

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