As part of the April 3, 2020, budget bill passed and signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Article 10 process is no longer the required route to siting a generation facility. This significant change creates different requirements and expectations for effective communications with stakeholders and communities.
Critics of the Article 10 process have long called for changes to its lengthy process. The new regime, 94-c, has its eyes set on growth at a faster rate than previously possible under Article 10. New projects are enrolling in the 94-c process and Article 10 projects are opting-in.
94-c paved the way with the creation of the new Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES), which was tasked with developing new standards and conditions. On September 16, 2020, ORES issued draft regulations and uniform standards and conditions for public comment pursuant to the State Administrative Procedure Act (SAPA). The regulations became effective on March 3, 2021.
A shorter overall process brings about new challenges for developers.
As a requirement of the new law, developers will meet with stakeholders before filing their initial application. Those who have already filed and been deemed complete under Article 10 will still need to contact key stakeholders. This will require a consistent focus on attending public meetings and developing key messaging for stakeholders. These messages will drive home the importance of the project. Getting them out early and often will help advance the project’s positive factual messaging before critics can attack the project.
The new process no longer requires consultation with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) for payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreements. It instead allows the developer and local municipalities and industrial development agencies (IDA) to formulate a PILOT agreement on their own. During the 60-day notice of the project’s application, an agreement must be requested.
During this process, early engagements with key stakeholders will allow them to deliver those messages and show community-wide support for the project. Developing these key messages requires a partner who knows the towns and communities the developers are engaging with.
After application submission, ORES has 60-days to determine application completeness. If deemed complete by ORES, a series of permits will be awarded which then initiates a 60-day period where the public, local municipalities and others may comment. This period will require additional outreach to stakeholders and members of the public to provide project information. Ensuring that the project is not misrepresented in the public’s eyes will make the 60-day comment period more efficient for the project.
Mower has been helping clients successfully plan and execute public outreach for more than 30 years. When engaging in siting processes through Article 10 or 94-c, developers need a partner who can help. Mower is that partner. If you are interested in learning more about how we can help developers with siting their next project, contact John Lacey or Austin Philleo.