RIC Energy reconfiguring Knox solar project after confused planning board vote

— From RIC Energy
This map shows the general placement of RIC Energy’s proposed 4.4-Megawatt solar farm along Thompsons Lake Road.

KNOX — After being denied its 4.4-megatt project in an unusual vote by the Knox Planning Board earlier this month, RIC Energy is choosing to retool its proposal with improvements that may reduce its impact, rather than press its claim that the sudden absence of a planning board member in the middle of that fateful vote should allow a do-over. 

On March 12, the Knox Planning Board was voting on whether to override the Albany County Planning Board’s disapproval of the project when planning board member Debra Nelson suddenly dropped off the videoconferencing platform she was using to attend the meeting remotely, explaining later that she had to respond to a family emergency. 

Without Nelson, who had previously voted in favor of the project, the vote tally was 4 to 2, falling one vote short of the five-member supermajority that would have allowed the local planning board to approve the project, proposed to be built near the intersection of Whipple and Thompsons Lake roads. 

RIC initially challenged the vote, arguing that the unique circumstances should allow the planning board to retake its vote, with approval being the likely outcome. At the same time, the town, through its attorney, Michelle Storm, maintained that the vote was legal and binding. The proposal remained unapproved.

Permitting Manager John Reagan told The Enterprise this week that “rather than belabor the issue,” the solar developer will likely submit another proposal for the same site.

“RIC is contemplating revising the site plan to utilize recent advancements in solar systems that would be more efficient and less impactful,” Reagan said. “If we do, we would re-apply for site plan approval and the planning board would likely follow the same review process.”

Regan explained that the “recent advancements” include an ability to have solar panels track the sun rather than remain fixed, as they would have in the original proposal. However, he said that “nothing’s been designed yet,” so details are limited. 

“I do not have a timeline to provide to you, but I would think it is possible to re-design within the next several months,” he said. 

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