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The state today issued a final siting permit for a 36-megawatt solar facility in Calverton, the governor announced this morning.

Riverhead Solar 2, to be developed by the global energy company AES, will be built on 275 acres both east and west of Edwards Avenue in Calverton. It is the fifth commercial solar energy production facility in the vicinity of a LIPA substation there.

Riverhead Solar2 is one of the first two commercial solar energy facilities approved by the State Office of Renewable Energy Siting, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. The other is a 177 MW solar facility in upstate Livingston County.

The Office of Renewable Energy Siting, was created by legislation enacted in 2020 as part of the 2020-2021 state budget to “dramatically speed up the siting and construction of clean energy projects to combat climate change and help jumpstart the state’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 health crisis.”

“The siting approvals for these two facilities are the fastest in New York State’s history,” according to a press release issued today by the governor’s office.

Because the facility is larger that 25 MW, it was subject to state, rather than town, review and approval. The developer originally filed its application with the State Department of Public Service, which had jurisdiction over the project under state law, but opted to transfer the application to the Office of Renewable Energy Siting for streamlined and speedier processing.

Three solar facilities in Calverton are already operational. A fourth, Calverton Solar Center, a 22.9 megawatt facility west of Edwards Avenue, was issued a special permit by the town board and received preliminary site pan approval from the planning board last month.

Approved and pending commercial solar production facility applications in the Town of Riverhead encompass approximately 660 acres in the Calverton hamlet.

Area residents sought a moratorium on new solar facilities and the town board held a public hearing on a proposed 12-month moratorium but never adopted the local law to put a moratorium in place. The board voted in September to table the matter and never brought it to a vote after that. As drafted, the moratorium would not have affected projects, like Riverhead Solar2, already in the application review phase.

“As part of our aggressive clean and renewable energy goals, we’re committed to protecting New York State from the effects of climate change and helping to ensure renewable energy sources can be built and distributed easily and efficiently,” Cuomo said today.

The Riverhead Solar2 and Morris Ridge (Livingston County) solar projects will together create over 430 temporary and full-time jobs and spur over $200 million in private investment to help stimulate the state’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the governor. Local taxing jurisdictions will receive over $20 million in payments in lieu of taxes and other funding over the life of the two projects, the governor said.

Riverhead Solar and Morris Ridge Solar Energy Center paid $213,000 in intervenor funds to enable municipal and community groups to fully participate in the review of the facilities.

Editor’s note: sPower, the original developer of Riverhead Solar 1 and Riverhead Solar 2 merged with the AES Corporation in November 2020 to form AES Clean Energy, according to the AES Corporation’s website. This story has been amended to reflect the present ownership of the facility.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.