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Niagara County vows: No tax breaks for solar power without cleanup bonds

Niagara County vows: No tax breaks for solar power without cleanup bonds

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Solar yard sign Cambria

A yard sign opposing the Bear Ridge Solar project on a lawn in Cambria June 19, 2019. (Thomas J. Prohaska/Buffalo News)

Fearing the deposit of toxic waste from solar panels, the Niagara County Legislature this week unanimously declared that the county will offer no property tax breaks to solar power projects unless the developer posts a bond that would pay for the complete removal of the panels and associated equipment.

State regulations require developers to submit a fully funded decommissioning and restoration plan for their sites, but they do not require the posting of a bond.

The bond amount would be determined by a consultant the county would hire, said Legislator David E. Godfrey, R-Wilson, who co-sponsored Tuesday's resolution. Most of the proposed 900-acre Bear Ridge Solar project would be in Cambria, in Godfrey's district.

Bear Ridge Solar project manager Kevin Kohlstedt said the company would obey the new rule. He said its solar panels won't contain cadmium, a potentially toxic element cited in the county resolution.

The new rule applies only if a project lies in a town that doesn't already require cleanup bonding.

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