Plymouth Planning Board Approves Three Solar Arrays

Published in Wicked Local Plymouth

The Plymouth Planning Board OK’d three more ground mounted solar arrays Monday night, March 7, adding to a growing list of these projects.

Plymouth Planning Board Approves Three Solar Arrays

The projects total 44.7 acres of cleared land.

In the past five years, a total of 12 arrays have been approved, spanning more than 181 acres.

Solar arrays are allowed uses, meaning the only requirement has been site plan review, which involves the planning board simply reviewing the plans. This spring, Town Meeting will consider a plan to adopt a solar bylaw that would create more regulations on these projects. (See related story).

The three new projects include two solar arrays, a four-acre and a 5.5 acre, off Federal Furnace Road as well as a 35-acre solar array within the northeast corner of A. D. Makepeace’s Redbrook development off Bourne Road. The array is actually broken up into three pieces.

The Redbrook solar fields will displace 130 home sites on the property, which will be relocated within the development. The nearest home to the array will be 300 feet away. The largest of the pieces will generate 2,777 kilowatts, with the other two churning out 1,338 kilowatts each for a total of approximately 5.5 megawatts. The energy will be offered to Redbrook residents as well as to other entities on a first-come-first basis, Berkley explained. Planning Board Chairman Tim Grandy requested that the plan for barbed wire at the top of the fences surrounding the arrays be scrapped.

“I don’t want to be looking at Walpole while I’m driving down Bourne Road,” he said.

Berkley said creating a taller fence in lieu of the barbed wire would be fine. He noted that a 100-foot buffer will shield homes from the outskirts of the solar fields. The applicant for this project is ADM Agawam Development LLC and is working with Borrego Solar on the project, which will require Natural Heritage review and conservation commission approval since a portion of the land is located within Natural Heritage Estimated & Priority Habitats of Rare Wildlife, in the Zone II and area 2 Aquifer Protection District and a vernal pool has been identifies on the site.

Renewable Energy Development Partners plans to construct two solar fields on separate Federal Furnace Road parcels owned by Piney Wood Cranberry Company. The first, located of 969 Federal Furnace Road, will clear four acres of land and include 2,136 solar panels, each generating 310 watts for a total of 662 kilowatts. The project is expected to generate $8,000 annually through a payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, agreement with the town. The applicant plans to sell the solar energy credits to Piney Wood Cranberry Company as well as to other local businesses and nonprofits.

Renewable Energy Development Partners is also planning to construct a 5.5-acre solar field off Federal Furnace Road on another Piney Wood Cranberry parcel. This is a 1-megawatt solar array that will include 4,047 solar panels.