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Solar energy law revisions draw heat

Revisions are being made on a solar energy systems law that could have threatened development at an industrial park in the Town of Tonawanda.

A public hearing on the proposal is postponed until July 12; it was to have been held today.

"We are making some changes to the law," said Town Attorney Daniel T. Cavarello.

A moratorium on commercial- and utility-scale solar systems remains in effect as town officials and their consultant, Wendel Duchscherer Architects & Engineers, work on the legislation. Earlier this month, Thomas M. Montante, president of TM Montante Development, said the current draft contained "deal killers."

Montante's company owns Riverview Solar Technology Park, which has targeted 50 of its 180 acres for solar energy collectors to generate power for use on site. The company also has a memorandum of understanding to link companies in a Chinese energy consortium with Western New York.

The "deal killers" Montante cited include requirements for a decommissioning plan and posting a surety bond to guarantee it, as well as Town Board approval of ownership changes.

"After he presented his comments, we met again with our consultant and made some revisions that aren't quite in final form," said Cavarello.

Montante, who had some input when the proposal was before the Planning Board, said the controversial requirements "were put in without our knowledge." He said he was notified about the review.

"They have to be eliminated," Montante reiterated last week.

When Montante complained about the decommissioning plan requirement at the June 7 Town Board work session, Councilman John A. Bargnesi Jr. pointed to the costly cleanups of abandoned industrial facilities.

"Those are all buildings," Montante replied, contrasting them with solar systems.

The aluminum standards that hold solar panels and the panels themselves are recyclable, Montante said.

"We are trying to find the right balance here, between the regulations that the town needs and still have a favorable environment for this type of development," the town attorney said.

Montante said: "We hope to get it resolved where it's good for the town [and] good for future solar development."


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