The Riverhead Town Board Tuesday approved the special permit application for a 22.9 megawatt commercial solar energy facility off Edwards Avenue in Calverton.
The proposal by L.I. Solar Generation, a joint venture of NextEra Energy Resources and National Grid, is planned for two parcels, totaling approximately 198 acres, of industrially zoned land west of Edwards Avenue.
The new facility, known as Calverton Solar Center, will the fourth large-scale commercial solar energy facility in the Calverton hamlet. A fifth, the 36-megawatt Riverhead Solar 2, which is being advanced by sPower, is pending before a state siting board.
The town board voted 3-1 with one abstention to grant the special permit.
Councilman Tim Hubbard, who has expressed doubts about the benefits to Riverhead residents from the concentration of solar facilities in Calverton and concerns about the decommissioning of these facilities at the end of their useful lives, cast the lone dissenting vote.
Councilwoman Catherine Kent, who has expressed concerns about the extent of the review of the proposal, abstained.
The developer has negotiated a community benefit agreement with the town, under which it will pay $1.5 million to be allocated by the town across six benefit categories, as follows:
- $350,000 for “health and welfare” which includes the creation and/or the improvement of parks beaches, recreational facilities, senior adult programs and not-for-profit outreach programs;
- $250,000 for the protection, preservation and enhancement and maintenance of the functional integrity of the Peconic River, Long Island Sound and the Pine Barrens ecosystem;
- $250,000 to the protection of agriculture and open space;
- $350,000 for the protection, promotion and enhancement of police, fire and emergency medical response to provide training and equipment;
- $150,000 to be allocated to the Riverhead Central School District with the goal of providing wireless internet access for students who do not have the financial means to obtain wifi; and
- $150,000 for job promotion, enhancement and development and job training.
The proposal requires site plan approval from the Riverhead Planning Board.
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