WELLSVILLE â€” From solar to large-scale battery operations, the Wellsville Town Board is weighing the best path forward on the renewable energy front.
Deputy Town Supervisor Michael Miller, the planning board liaison, said the group has been working diligently on solar and battery issues. Miller provided an update to the town board during Wednesday nightâ€™s September meeting.
â€śFive towns in Livingston County are looking at doing 12-month moratoriums, specifically on large-scale battery facilities,â€ť Miller said. â€śTheyâ€™re looking at doing it because some developers have been contacting them asking to maybe come in and see what they would need to do some large ones. Some of the concerns with some of these large battery banks are shipping containers, basically, full of batteries. Theyâ€™re wondering if theyâ€™re volatile, what happens at the end of their life, how do you dispose of them? Thereâ€™s worries of excessive noise and heat, especially with rural fire departments, do they have the proper training if there was an issue? Specifically, the planning board isnâ€™t suggesting to do this (implement a moratorium), theyâ€™re doing their part in saying this is what weâ€™re studying right now and this is what weâ€™ve found.â€ť
The planning board has been more focused on how solar operations should be regulated in the town.
â€śTheyâ€™re getting close to being able to present the solar law to the town board,â€ť Miller said. â€śThey kind of have to break out solar and battery separately, so there might have to be two laws in the future. Right now theyâ€™re just looking at going forward on the solar side with the permit and the law.â€ť
The planning board could be ready to present its recommendation next month.
Miller pointed to local laws in other towns in Allegany County, such as Belfast, that aim to â€śopt out of the real property tax exemptions provided for certain energy systems.â€ť The board discussed the potential for the Town of Wellsville to take a similar course of action.
â€śMy personal opinion is anybody receiving a benefit by having these alternative energy sources on their property shouldnâ€™t be handled any differently than somebody that has an oil or gas well on their property,â€ť said Town Supervisor Shad Alsworth. â€śIf itâ€™s drawing income, it should be taxable. Not everybody shares that opinion, but I would strongly urge the planning board to move forward with their investigation of that so we could potentially put an opt-out (into law).â€ť
The town board approved motions for the planning board to further investigate both opting out of alternative energy tax exemptions and the establishment of a battery law.
The board also set a work session to discuss the budget for Sept. 23 at 7 p.m.