Update: Voters reject proposed solar project for Homer schools

Update 8:03 p.m. –

A majority of voters in the Homer Central School District have rejected a site lease agreement for a proposed solar project for the district.

197 residents (36 percent) voted in favor of the project, while 382 residents (64 percent) voted against it.

The vote was announced at the Homer Central School District Board of Education meeting Tuesday night.

Earlier –

HOMER, N.Y. – Polls open at 12 p.m. Tuesday for a referendum vote on a proposed solar project for the Homer Central School District.

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The school district is looking to enter into a solar power purchase agreement with NextERA Energy Resources. The company is a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, Inc., a solar company based in Juno Beach, Florida, with operations in 26 states and in Spain and Canada.

The company has previously entered into contracts with TC3, Houghton College and Oneida County.

The agreement would have the Homer Central School District paying roughly $0.10 per kilowatt-hour (kwh), a rate that would increase by 2 percent each year for 25 years.

homer solar farm

NextEra has proposed a 1.75-megawatt solar project located at 2060 Route 13 in Homer (NextEra Energy Resources)

NextEra estimates cost savings of $42,000 in the first year and up to $2 million over the life of the project, though some experts have challenged these figures.

Victor Siegle, a Homer businessman and former executive at Marietta Corporation, says it would be a mistake for the district to enter into a long-term, fixed price contract with NextEra.

"As the price of solar electricity continues to drop, the need for massive subsidies and tax credits will also drop," Siegle wrote in an op-ed Friday in the Cortland Standard. "Let's wait until the project can stand on its own merits."

Polls are open Tuesday at the Homer High School Music Building from noon until 7 p.m.

We will post the results of Tuesday's vote as soon as they become available.

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