SOUTHWICK – At this week’s Planning Board meeting, a large solar array project was proposed by Eversource, the town’s electricity provider. Representing Eversource was TRC Solutions, a consulting firm that deals with solar array projects.
Laura Lefebvre, a Senior Program Manager at TRC Solutions, presented plans for a solar array to be located on the North side of Feeding Hills Road, on a large field just east of the Southwick Rail Trail crossing on Feeding Hills Road.
Only 22.5 acres of the 76-acre parcel will be dedicated to the approximately 17,000 solar panel structures with no determination mentioned for the remaining acreage, although the full parcel would be owned by Eversource
According to Lefebvre, in the site plan application she filed to the Planning Board, the location of the solar array avoids any impact to wetland and buffer zones, and it won’t be visible to nearby residents at their homes.
“The town’s biggest concern is that you don’t see the site from Feeding Hills Road,” said Priscilla Ress, a media relations specialist for Eversource, and a member of this project. “That is something we assured them we would take care of.”
Ress then explained that the reason to put the solar array at the Feeding Hills Road location is due to Eversource getting confirmation from Massachusetts DPU (Department of Public Utilities) to build another 62 megawatts of solar facilities across the state. The confirmation from DPU was due to a change in the state regulations for building solar arrays and Eversource had previously purchased the 76-acre land on Feeding Hills Road for a solar project.
Ress added that there are key benefits for the town of Southwick to allow the project, one being that Eversource pays the property tax. Once the solar array is up and running, Ress said there would be no noise and only clean energy.
“It’s a very quiet neighbor,” said Ress.
With a deadline of January 1, 2018 it is important for Eversource to get an approval soon as they would like to start construction by August.