The project was initially announced on December 1, 2021, construction started on July 4, 2023
By Andrew Harris, images by Genesee Valley Media
For many the drive between Andover and Wellsville offered a big surprise in early July: Construction on a large scale solar energy project. The project was well known among those involved in Andover’s town and village government but to the general population, this was a surprise. A quick google search for the project and only one media outlet reported on “McCormick Farm Solar Project,” hometown blogsite Andover Exclusive. That was in June of 2021 and remains the only public reporting on the solar project, well until now. Read that in normal entertaining Andover Exclusive fashion here:
Social media has been a buzz with the predictable outrage as construction begins. We asked our friends at Genesee Valley Media to document the development. Below is a gallery of images taken earlier this week with the permission of the McCormick Family.
We talked with Andover Town Supervisor Gus Weber about the project and reaction from the community now that construction has begun. “I’ve always been of the mind that property owners can use their property however they see fit within the law,” said Weber.
When addressing the reality that solar farming is replacing traditional “dirt” farming, Weber put the word “farming” into perspective.
“I’ve lived here my whole life. I’ve driven from Andover and Wellsville for work since the day when six dairy farms operated on that stretch of 417. Today all those farms are gone. People have to understand that those farms are not returning.”
Today the crops grown along on the Andover-Wellsville corridor are leased crops. In general, leasing that land to a Steuben County industrial scale dairy farm is the only means of paying the property tax on the acreage.
We talked with the current generation of the “McCormick Farm,” about the project. Terry McCormick and his family have been a cornerstone of Andover NY for generations. For many years the family raised potatoes, oats, and dairy cows but a total-loss barn fire ended that chapter in 1983. With land taxes always on the rise, Terry is quick to tell you that, “This land hasn’t paid for itself since 1983.”
When the opportunity to install a solar farm on 30 of the 110 acres of property came to the McCormick’s farm table, the family’s future came into focus.
“We’ve always been farmers and this is really no different. Now we are farming the sun and contributing in a new way. Of course this is a shock to some people but they’d better get ready for much more of this new energy development,” said Terry McCormick
On the whole the McCormick family is happy with the partnership with local government and the solar farm crew Clean Choice Energy. The McCormick family issued this statement just before we published this article:
“The McCormick’s would like to send a big thank you to the Town and Village Board members, as well as Clean Choice Energy, who have all spent time listening and sharing concerns to ensure Andover is moving forward in a positive light. Stay tuned for a additional “decorative element,” surrounding the finished project and all items will be supplied from local sources.”
The Sun looks forward to reporting on that “decorative element,” but in the meantime as construction progresses, keep in mind that this solar farm is a backyard project compared to other local projects.
This Andover solar farm is “small potatoes,” compared to the project planned for northern Allegany County. The McCormick solar farm will produce about 6.8 megawatts of energy while the upcoming Burns NY project will be about 12x larger, producing 94 megawatts. Read the news that we published on that project in May 2023 and the official press release by CleanChoice Energy back in late 2021: