Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Get the Facts

Learn more about solar energy here! Below are answers to some of the most-asked questions about solar energy and the South Ripley Solar Project.

ConnectGen is a renewable energy company comprised of seasoned energy industry professionals focused on developing wind, solar, and energy storage projects across the United States.

Launched in 2018 by private equity firm Quantum Energy Partners, a leading provider of private equity capital to the global energy industry, ConnectGen draws from its vast experience developing renewable energy and infrastructure projects across the United States. In total, the ConnectGen team has managed the development, financing, construction, and operation of thousands of megawatts (MW) of wind and solar energy across 14 states.

ConnectGen is currently focused on developing large-scale solar projects in multiple locations around New York State. ConnectGen typically develops projects that will generate at least 100 MW of electricity, enough clean energy to power over 15,000 homes in New York.[1] ConnectGen has also evaluated battery storage projects in New York and may pursue the development of battery projects in the future.

[1] SEIA: “What’s in a Megawatt? Calculating the Number of Homes Powered by Solar Energy”:  https://www.seia.org/initiatives/whats-megawatt

Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are typically constructed of silicon, tempered glass, electrical wiring, and a metal frame. Silicon, an element most commonly found in sand, has conductive properties that allow it to absorb and convert sunlight into electricity. When light interacts with a silicon cell, it causes electrons to be set into motion, which initiates a flow of electric current in a process known as the “photovoltaic effect”.[1]

[1] Energy Sage: “How do Solar Panels Work?: https://news.energysage.com/solar-panels-work/

Yes. Because the PV panel materials are enclosed and do not mix with water or vaporize into the air, there is little to no risk of chemicals, including greenhouse gases, being released into the environment during normal use. Additionally, any Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) produced by solar panel systems are in the same extremely low frequency range as those induced by household appliances.[1]

All solar facilities are designed to strict electrical safety standards to ensure safe operation. Product safety standards, installation requirements, and building codes for solar facilities are addressed by the National Fire Protection Agency’s National Electrical Code, the International Code Council’s International Fire Code, the International Association of Firefighters, and several other safety and product standards groups.[2]

ConnectGEN will be fully responsible for the security of the facility and for maintaining consistent safety standards within the project area.

[1] NYSERDA New York Solar Guidebook: https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/-/media/NYSun/files/Model-Solar-Energy-Law-Guidance-Document.pdf

[2] SEIA: Fire Safety & Solar: https://www.seia.org/initiatives/fire-safety-solar

A solar farm is a large group of solar panels that operate together as one power generation facility, delivering electricity to the existing electric grid. Solar farms are typically arranged in north to south rows with access buffers between each row, not less than 8 feet wide.

A panel array, which includes both PV panel and mounting racks, typically stands around 12 feet tall. The mounting racks are supported by steel pile foundations generally set up to 8 feet into the ground without the use of concrete. Panel designs currently being evaluated by ConnectGEN rotate slowly from east to west once a day, keeping the sun at a 90-degree angle from the panels to ensure maximum energy is absorbed. Each section of solar panels is typically fenced off to ensure security and safe operation.

Other project infrastructure present at a solar farm includes common electrical equipment such as inverters and transformers, and the electrical equipment necessary to deliver energy to the existing electrical grid such as underground and overhead transmission lines. ConnectGEN’s projects may also include a battery storage facility.

Utility-scale solar farms represent a significant investment into the local and surrounding communities. Host landowners will receive annual lease payments for thirty years or more. The projects also benefit communities by contributing millions of tax dollars to towns, counties, and local school districts that host the projects.

Utility-scale solar farms also benefit communities by creating local construction jobs, generating revenue for local businesses, and supporting community organizations through sponsorships and donations.

ConnectGEN will be fully responsible for maintaining the solar facilities and any properties within the projects’ boundaries. Landscape maintenance at the solar farms will be performed by companies contracted directly by ConnectGEN.

ConnectGEN is responsible for the decommissioning and removal of project infrastructure at the end of the project’s life. As added protection for project landowners and host municipalities, ConnectGEN will put financial security in place early in the life of the project to ensure that host communities and landowners will bear no responsibility for decommissioning or restoration.

Additionally, New York State will require a decommissioning and restoration plan be put in place as part of the state Article 10 permitting process. The decommissioning and restoration plan will outline the various ways in which ConnectGEN will safely and responsibly remove installed solar equipment and how the property within the project area will be restored to as close to its state prior to construction as possible.

ConnectGen is in the process of actively meeting with local landowners and project stakeholders to review and enter into solar lease agreements. Once sufficiently developed, ConnectGen intends to submit a proposal for the Project to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (“NYSERDA”) Renewable Energy Standard Request for Proposals, which procures renewable energy credits to help New York State meet its renewable energy targets.

On the permitting side, New York State requires that major electric generation facilities, including solar farms, undergo a rigorous state permitting process, under Public Service Law Article 10, prior to construction and operation. The Article 10 process provides rigorous requirements for the study of the environmental, public health, and public safety impacts as well as the incorporation of extensive public input and local stakeholder engagement into the development, design, and construction of solar energy projects. Once prepared, ConnectGen will initiate the New York Article 10 process by first filing a Public Involvement Program plan to provide public outreach and identify stakeholders that are likely to be involved with the project review.

Concurrently, ConnectGen will work with the New York’s grid operator, the New York Independent System Operator, to evaluate the proposed connection to the electrical grid.

ConnectGEN expects to start construction on its utility-scale solar projects in western New York in 2022 with a goal to complete construction and begin delivering energy in late 2022 or 2023. Landowners and members of the community will be kept apprised of the projects’ milestones and progress throughout the development and construction phases of the projects.