Environmental & Agricultural Monitoring: What energy developers need to know

April 4, 2023


The Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES), created by the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act, oversees the New York State 94-c process covering siting, environmental review, and permitting of major renewable energy facilities, such as wind or solar farms, generating 25 megawatts or more, and their associated electric transmission facilities.

All construction projects have the potential to have some impact on the environment. Despite efforts to reduce impacts through the design of these large-scale projects, they are often sited at least in part on environmentally sensitive or agricultural lands. This introduces the need for agricultural and environmental surveys and monitoring to understand and mitigate the potential impacts associated with these projects.

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The siting of energy projects near agricultural or natural areas results in a need for agricultural and environmental monitoring to ensure potential impacts are mitigated.

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In New York State, 94-c is an enhanced process specifically for major renewable energy facilities. The new process “aims to improve the siting and construction of large-scale renewable energy projects in an environmentally responsible and cost-effective manner” with a goal to standardize and streamline the siting, permitting, monitoring, and reporting processes and aid NYS in its efforts to achieve some fairly aggressive renewable energy generation goals.

These types of projects were previously often permitted under NYS Article 10 law. Projects already in the initial phases of the current Article 10 siting process through the State’s Siting Board may remain in Article 10 or opt to transfer into the new 94-c siting process.

While 94-c covers energy generation, the Article VII process, overseen by the NYS Public Service Commission (NYSPSC), covers proposed major transmission projects for natural gas and electricity. Article VII projects have similar needs for environmental and agricultural surveys and monitoring.

The 94-c goal of obtaining a more streamlined review process by regulatory agencies is also expected to entice developers to ‘go green,’ as the previous process surrounding solar and wind farm projects was often quite lengthy on the reviewer’s end. The new regulation also seeks to create inter-agency agreement in applying standards consistently.

Managing Project Risk in All Phases

Fisher Associates works hand-in-hand with developers seeking to establish these major renewable energy facilities. Over two decades of navigating the regulatory environment has positioned Fisher to provide key assistance to developers to bring these complex projects to life. Fisher’s masterful ability to leverage great communication and solid relationships with state regulatory agencies eases the process.

Fisher Associates staff have served as the 3rd party environmental and agricultural monitors on several Article VII and Article 10 projects and are qualified to serve in these roles on 94-c projects. Typically, these contracts are forged directly with the developer. In this role, Fisher Associates can save the developer time and money by identifying and communicating compliance issues before they become expensive issues to fix or worse, spark a ‘deficiency designation’ or ‘stop work order’ on the project. Fisher’s onsite environmental and agricultural monitoring ensures that construction is compliant with agency regulations and certificate or permit conditions.

Fisher Associates are able to provide support throughout all phases of a project.

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The Fisher Difference

Fisher is a trusted partner, staying up-to-date on the most current regulations and applying them to client projects to maintain compliance. If you have a project that will require, or you suspect may require environmental or agricultural monitoring, contact Fisher. We can leverage a highly-experienced, in-house team ready to mobilize for you to meet all of your project needs. Our team will determine whether monitoring of your site is necessary and create a plan to maintain your project’s regulatory compliance.

Tap into Fisher’s comprehensive team for your permitting needs and let us put our experience to work for you. Contact Lisa Oliver, P.E. at loliver@fisherassoc.com for help on your next major energy project.

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Lisa Oliver, P.E.
Director of Energy
loliver@fisherassoc.com
585.334.1310 ext. 501

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