ONEIDA COUNTY, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – The Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act was passed as part of the 2020/2021 State Budget, and as a result, local legislators are voicing their concerns saying this takes away local communities voices when it comes to opposing solar development. Once this act was passed, it created The Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES), which revamped the approval process for solar energy projects.

“It basically is tasked with streamlining renewable energy generating facilities,” said Joseph Griffo, New York State Senator.

The law also removed to local ad hoc representatives from the New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment, causing local governments and communities to no longer have a say in the siting of certain projects. 

“Whatever the constituents of the communities have to say they’ll say they weigh their input but this group this unelected board called the office of renewable energy permitting will make the determination on whether a project can proceed or not proceed. it speeds up the permitting and construction of renewable projects and I find it very troubling,” said Griffo.

Now, Senator Griffo is proposing new legislation that would eliminate the Office of Renewable Energy Siting, bringing the power back to the legislator, and the existing governing agencies Assemblyman Robert Smullen is backing this bill. 

“I’m hearing from a lot of citizens that they’re very frustrated with this process, and this is from both sides of the aisle people that are environmentalists and people property and the rights thereof that its very difficult to get a consensus on this and as a result I much more deliberately and that’s why the office of renewable energy permitting is such an unelected unaccountable mechanism,” said Smullen.

However, this bill would not stop the current solar development projects taking place in the Towns of Deerfield and Newport, but it would help with future solar development.