Warren Solar - Little Rest Road
The proposed 4.6 MW Solar project will be constructed on just over 18 acres of land. The aggregate size of the lots is 37 acres off Little Rest Road. No other major development will occur on the remaining acreage.
Construction will take 3-6 months and is targeted to begin in Spring 2019.
Once constructed, the solar project will have very little activity onsite. Maintenance and mowing is only required a handful of times per year.
The project will be developed and constructed under the new Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program. The project already received approval from National Grid for interconnection to the electrical grid and also received approval from the Warren Conservation Commission.
The project is set back in a way that it cannot be seen from any road or residential dwelling. You would not know it’s there if you drove by on Little Rest Road and significant vegetative screening will be provided for the one house that may have a sightline.
A live feed of the solar data will be provided to the Town of Warren so the science departments at each school can educate students on renewable energy and its benefits.
BENEFITS TO THE tOWN OF wARREN
The project will provide multiple benefits to the Town of Warren without requiring additional services that an alternate use (residential subdivision) would require.
This project will be a community shared solar project and thus, net metering agreements will be available to the Town, local businesses, and residents throughout the Town.
These agreements would provide savings on utility bills over the 20+ year life of the solar project. The savings will be in excess of $60,000 per year split between the Municipality and its local businesses/residents.
The Town would also receive tax payments over the 20+ year life of the solar project via a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) Agreement in excess of $45,000 per year, in addition to the existing real property taxes already attributable to the land value.
Syncarpha will provide a scholarship to a 2019 or 2020 high school graduate that resides in Warren in the amount of $40,000 ($10,000 per year for a four-year program).
Finally, the Town and the community will be supporting the State in the achievement of its greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals by allowing the development of a renewable energy project and participating in a community shared solar program.
Are there toxic materials used in the panels? What happens if a panel cracks?
The panels are non-toxic. Over the past several Planning Board hearings, neighbors and board members have voiced concerns around the potential for contaminated storm water runoff. When rain water hits the panels, it simply rolls off the glass surface onto the ground. The characteristics of the water are not changed at all by the solar panels. There are thousands of megawatts of solar installed across the state, and the reason that so many municipalities are comfortable with the projects is that the poly-silicon solar panels are non-toxic and do not pose a hazard to the public.
If a panel were to crack, water may seep into it but that water will remain unchanged. Panels may be damaged by birds dropping things on them, or from pebbles getting kicked up from lawn mowers. If cracks do occur, the panels are typically replaced during the next maintenance visit.
Fears around toxic solar panels stem from products that contain cadmium, but those panels are usually only used in desert applications. The panels for the Little Rest Road solar project will NOT contain cadmium and are non-toxic. Material Safety Data Sheets for the panels have been provided to the Warren Planning Board and are available to residents upon request.
Storm water runoff is a big issue in Town. How can we be sure this project won’t increase the water neighbors get in their yards and basements?
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has determined that solar projects shall be considered “pervious”. This means that unlike a parking lot, most of the rain water that hits the panels will roll off into the ground beneath the panels. For the remaining water that does not recharge directly into the ground, stormwater basins and swales have been designed specifically for the contours and soil onsite. These basins and swales will ensure that the total volume of water leaving the site will actually decrease - hence helping neighbors with their recent water issues. The engineering for these basins has been reviewed and confirmed by the Town’s peer review engineer.
Who will maintain the site?
While some companies only develop projects, Syncarpha is a developer and also the long term operator of its projects. The solar electricity generation will be monitored remotely 24/7 and Syncarpha will receive alerts if anything needs repair. Similarly, Syncarpha is responsible for monitoring and maintaining the storm water basins and swales. Syncarpha will install cameras to monitor these swales and basins. This monitoring is in addition to scheduled inspections to be required by the Planning Board via permit conditions. The basins are designed to drain within 72 hours so if they don’t, we will mobilize to the site to inspect, clean and repair them if necessary.
Syncarpha currently operates 100 megawatts (MW) of ground mounted and rooftop solar assets across the country and has another 130 MW of projects under development in Massachusetts. We have made a long term commitment to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and are dedicated to working closely with all of our host Towns and their residents well into the future.
How can we be sure the Town can clean up the land if Syncarpha “goes away”?
First and foremost, Syncarpha will stand by its responsibility to return the site to a natural state when the project’s life is over. Furthermore, a decommissioning bond will be in place with the Town to guarantee they have the funds to remove the project and return the site to a natural state. Similarly, a maintenance bond will be in place to ensure the storm water basins remain intact and functional.
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