OWEGO — As solar farm proposals have increasingly gained approval over the last few years, concerns have often been raised regarding the use of agricultural land for the new energy source.
There are currently just under a dozen projects within Tioga County, accounting for 46.38 megawatts of energy production over 287 acres.
The county itself encompasses just under 332,000 acres of land, of which, county documents note roughly 32.5 percent is designated as farm land — or about 107,900 acres.
As a percentage, current solar farms represent 0.65 percent of agricultural land within the county.
However, numerous and lengthy concerns have been voiced over a dozen county planning board meetings that these projects are cutting into the fixed amount of agricultural land available for farm operations — which generate over $36.7 million in products sold.
County officials are working toward calculating the overall impact these projects have on taxable land throughout the county.
Thus far, Candor is home to two solar farms operated by Renovus Solar.
A 1.2 acre parcel on Owego Road is generating 250 kilowatts, while a 35 acre parcel on Spencer Road is generating 6 megawatts.
Delaware River Solar is operating two solar farms on Gaskill Road in Owego and West Creek Road in Candor, each generating 4.98 MW on 26 acres and 5 MW on 30 acres, respectively.
This company intends to build another facility in Berkshire.
Norbut Solar is generating 5 MW on 40 acres in the Town of Tioga on state Route 96.
Lodestar Energy is generating 4.9MW on 26 acres on Halsey Valley Road in Tioga, and another 4.5MW project is pending approval on a 20 acre parcel.
The largest producing solar farm — 16 MW — is located on a 108 acre parcel in Spencer.
IDA Chairman Ralph Kelsey noted that, in that case, the land is quite sloped and would not be productive for agricultural use.
The combined assessed value of existing solar farms is roughly $721,600, according to county documents.
At the IDA’s Wednesday meeting, board members questioned whether the projects were supplying a considerable amount of electricity to area homes, and further data will be retrieved and presented.