Riverhead Town Approves Special Permit for Calverton Solar Farm

solar panels
Photo: iStock

This month, the Riverhead Town Board granted a special permit to L.I. Solar Generation, LLC for the construction of the Calverton Solar Energy Center, a 22.9-megawatt commercial solar energy production facility. However, many conditions will have to be met to make it a reality.

The large-scale solar farm, the fourth in Calverton, includes an underground electrical transmission line underneath Edwards Avenue, a transformer, fencing and road and drainage improvements on parcels located at 2714 River Road and 149 Edwards Avenue. Prior to receiving Riverhead Planning Board approval, Long Island Solar Generations must reserve a 20-foot-wide easement to Riverhead Town for an extension of the EPCAL recreation trail, must execute a Community Benefit Agreement with the Town and must enter a Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement. In addition, vegetative buffers must be maintained to screen the view of the solar farm from trails and highways.

The resolution was originally offered to the board by Councilwoman Catherine Kent, who later abstained from the vote due to concerns over two details in the final resolution—the permit’s extension from 20 years to 30 years, and the community benefit allocation, which currently sees the $1.5 million paid to the Town split between nonprofit outreach programs and recreational facilities, preservation of Peconic River and the Pine Barrens, protection of agriculture, enhancement of police and emergency medical response, job promotion and training, and Wi-Fi for Riverhead Central School District students. “If we’re going to call it a community benefit, I think we have to allow the community to weigh in…on how the money is used,” Kent said, noting her commitment to Riverhead’s Climate Smart Community Pledge.

“The East Hampton project called the Ørsted project is constantly used against our project, but theirs is substantially larger. Ours is only one-sixth of the 132 megawatts from East Hampton,” Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar noted. “Riverhead will be receiving $56 million in total for this project over the course of 30 years, and East Hampton will be receiving $34 million over the course of 20 years. We out-negotiated East Hampton.”

The vote passed 3-1, with Councilman Tim Hubbard dissenting.

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