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Niagara County pushing to change state laws that help solar and wind developers

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LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WKBW) — At every every Niagara County Legislative meeting over the past year, the group Cambria Opposition to Industrial Solarhas made their presence known. The group is against a massive solar facility in their community called, Bear Ridge Solar Project.

The developers of the project have held public meetings to listen to neighbors, but any large developer planning a power providing service only has to listen to the community so much. That's thanks to a state law called Article 10.

It basically, means developers can ask the state to build a power plant and skip asking the town or county. It's designed to make it easier for renewable energy companies to build in New York. An idea the opposition in Cambria can support, to an extent.

"I like the fact that it helps streamline the process for the developer and removes some of the red tape. What I don't like about it is that it takes away the local community and town board's right to tell them where it can go," said John Soto. He's with Cambria Opposition to Industrial Solar. He thinks the solar panels should be placed in an area in the county that is already zoned for industrial purposes.

Tuesday night, the Niagara County legislature voted to opt out of Section 487 of the New York Real Property Tax Law. It provides tax exemptions for solar or wind projects.

"It could, essentially, cripple these projects from moving forward because, as I've heard from various developers, that without the credits, these things can't get off the ground, " said Legislator John Syracuse.

There is also a bill in the NYS Assembly that would make changes to Article 10. It's aim is to add more local input.