Firm Plans Solar Array In Norwich

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/13/2017 11:51:21 PM
Modified: 6/14/2017 6:06:30 PM

Norwich — A Hartford-based solar firm is applying for state permits to build a 150-kilowatt solar array on Union Village Road, a project for which it has secured support from the town Selectboard and Energy Committee.

The Norwich Solar Technologies project at 673 Union Village Road would comprise roughly 648 solar modules, taking up about three-quarters of an acre on a hillside surrounded by trees and set back more than 800 feet from the nearest public road.

“It’s a nice project,” Troy McBride, chief technology officer for Norwich Technologies, said on Tuesday. “It’s going to be tucked back from the road, but it should be a little bit visible as you drive by.”

If approved by the state, the array would stand in a clearing on a wooded ridge leased to the company by residents Becky Cook and Natalie Boze. They could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

McBride said this would be his company’s first large freestanding solar installation in Norwich. Norwich Solar Technologies has built arrays at Pirouette Farm in Norwich, on the Hanover Police Department roof, at Cardigan Mountain School and at Kimball Union Academy, among other locations.

The company in April filed a letter giving the Vermont Public Service Board notice of its intent to ask for permission to build the array under Section 248, the state regulation governing energy projects.

“The Cook Solar Project creates a number of benefits with local, statewide, and regional significance,” the letter said. “For example, the project will contribute to Vermont’s statewide renewable energy goals, and reduce dependence on out-of-state electricity sources.”

The renewables firm will likely submit its full application later this month after environmental consultants conduct a review of the site, McBride said. A map included in his company’s initial filing with the Public Service Board indicates that there are no wetlands directly adjacent to the array, though there are some across the road.

The Norwich Selectboard last week voted, 4-0, to send its own letter to the Public Service Board supporting the designation of the Union Village site as a preferred location for energy development. The distinction would allow Norwich Solar Technologies to save more than $7,500 annually compared to what its costs would be for building on a non-preferred site.

John Langhus, a selectman who works for Norwich Solar Technologies, recused himself from that discussion.

The company also secured support from the Norwich Energy Committee in its bid to obtain a preferential site designation.

“We’re pleased that all the elements have come together on this project,” Linda Gray, chair of the Energy Committee, said in an email.

McBride said the company hoped to start building in the fall.

Although the Section 248 process requires notification of abutters, neighbors have not raised concerns, the developers’ letter of intent said. The letter says that the array would be located at least 600 feet from the nearest residence and behind trees, which would limit noise and visibility.

“We’re behind it,” Marsha Biggs, a resident who is listed as an abutter on the letter, said on Tuesday. “We’re not against it.”

Biggs said she had signed a waiver allowing the solar builders to move forward more quickly with their application, and that she didn’t know of any opposition in the neighborhood.

Norwich Solar Technologies is still working out who will purchase the electricity produced by the array, which in turn will determine who maintains ownership of the equipment, McBride said.

The company’s letter to the Public Service Board says that the net metering partner for the array will be Dan & Whits, but McBride said that the grocery store had signed up for a wider program that does not specify which solar installation will provide power to the business.

Rob Wolfe can be reached at rwolfe@vnews.com or at 603-727-3242.

Clarification

This story has been updated to reflect the fact that Norwich Technologies recently changed its name to Norwich Solar Technologies. 




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