Solar array nixed for farmers market in Norwich

Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 08, 2019

NORWICH — While the sun will still come up over the Norwich Farmers Market, it won’t be powering vendors’ booths anytime soon.

Citing a re-assessment of the project by the Co-op Food Stores, which leases the property to the market, Troy McBride, chief technology officer for Norwich Solar Technologies, said on Wednesday that the company has suspended plans to install a 150-kilowatt array at the 3½-acre site. It would have erected most of the panels atop the booths and some in the parking lot, providing power to the market and to the electric grid.

“The decision to move forward … is up to the landowner,” McBride wrote in an email on Wednesday. Also on Wednesday, Allan Reetz, the Co-op’s director of public relations, said that “we have no project on the books” for the foreseeable future.

Earlier this year, the Farmers Market’s member-vendors had voted, 28-2, to host the array if Norwich solar acquired all necessary permits, and Norwich Solar Technologies asked the Norwich Selectboard to formally designate the market property as a “preferred site” for energy development, one of several steps that the Vermont Public Utility Commission requires developers to take. Co-op management then started evaluating the project.

In a letter to the Valley News in mid-April, Co-op general manager Ed Fox wrote that “(t)he solar project, as proposed, would limit use of this Co-op property for the next 25 years, could involve a potentially large investment, and necessitates a careful review of possible return to the cooperative.”