Hudson Energy Development
Greene County, New York
Flint Mine Solar exemplifies EDR’s core mission to pursue and deliver high-quality solutions for our clients that result in positive environmental impact and benefits. Flint Mine Solar is a proposed 100-megawatt solar project, which will install approximately 400 acres of photovoltaic panels with 1,600 acres of privately owned land in Coxsackie and Athens, New York. The Flint Mine Solar site is former farmland, now succeeding to shrub and forest, that includes large wetland areas, grassland habitat for threatened and endangered raptors, rare plant communities, and portions of the site are within the Flint Mine Hill Archaeological District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
When done well, environmental permitting and siting seeks to achieve a balance among competing siting considerations and environmental constraints, while also designing a feasible and financeable project. In partnership with the project developers, engineers, and legal team, EDR engaged with state agencies and stakeholders to develop a project layout that avoids and minimizes environmental impacts in a complex site that includes multiple sensitive ecological and cultural resources. When constructed, the balance of the 1,600-acre project site will remain as forest, shrublands, or open space under a conservation easement, including a 300-acre grassland habitat preserve and a proposal to purchase the 62.5-acre Flint Mine Hill parcel for transfer into a permanent conservation easement.
EDR served as the lead environmental permitting consultant to guide the project team through New York’s Article 10 certification process. Since 2017, EDR has assisted Flint Mine Solar to resolve significant environmental and permitting challenges including:
• Archaeology: Preparation of a detailed archaeological survey research design; extensive consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office, Indian Tribes, and regional stakeholders; Phase IB archaeological field survey to evaluate and confirm the cultural greater sensitivity within the Flint Mine Hill Archaeological District; collaboration with the project engineers to select project design and construction elements that minimize soil disturbance and therefore minimize impacts to archaeological resources; development of a cultural resources mitigation strategy to ensure the permanent conservation of Flint Mine Hill, a quarry site mined by Native Americans for high-quality stone tool materials from approximately 13,000 to 500 years before present.
• Wildlife: Consultation and negotiation of survey work plans with state agencies; on-site threatened and endangered wildlife (avian) field surveys; project design to avoid impacts to sensitive habitat; development of a Net Conservation Benefit Plan; proposal to maintain a 300-acre grassland bird habitat mitigation area.
• Wetlands: On-site field studies and project design recommendations to avoid and minimize impacts to onsite wetlands, resulting in minimal impacts to state jurisdictional wetlands.
• Visual: Use of viewshed analysis to evaluate preliminary alternative site layouts to determine an optimal project design that minimizes potential visibility from adjacent (off site) areas and residences; design of a site-specific Visual Mitigation Planting Plan, which mimics existing “old field” and successional vegetation to screen and soften views of the project from nearby roadways and residences.
• Outreach: EDR supported the development team with a multi-year public outreach strategy that included open houses, stakeholder meetings, presentations to state agencies and local municipalities, and site visits and site tours. The development team’s commitment to genuine engagement with stakeholders and open, transparent communication were key to the successful siting and permitting of the project.
• GIS Data Management: Development of the facility layout and permitting studies required design and review of multiple alternative project layouts and coordination of large and complex GIS data sets; EDR’s GIS team effectively managed this data and provided mapping support throughout the design development, environmental field studies, permitting, and agency review of the project.
• Site Design: Project design also included a proposed trail within the solar facility site, which would provide a recreational asset to the local community, afford wildlife viewing opportunities for the public to enjoy the grassland raptor habitat preserve, and interpretative displays with information about the solar project, sensitive wildlife and habitats, and significant archaeological resources.
The success of the Flint Mine Solar project epitomizes the strength of EDR’s multi-disciplinary approach to provide high-quality solutions to our clients while protecting and benefiting our environment.