Source: Wicked Local
BOLTON RESIDENTS TO WEIGH IN ON PROPOSED SOLAR FARM
By Kristin DeJohn for Wicked Local
A public hearing on a proposed solar farm at the Bolton Orchards property focused on the impact such a facility would have on the land and surrounding community. Residents and members of the Planning Board came to the March 28 meeting with a series of questions: Will power lines emit higher electromagnetic fields? Will this affect property values? Will solar panels be a visual nuisance? How will they affect wetlands and the environment?
Representatives from Cambridge-based Renewable Energy Massachusetts, LCC, came before the Town Planning Board armed with drawings, and worked to explain the footprint of the 30-acre photovoltaic facility.
“This is a green technology,” said Todd Morey, a civil engineering advisor for Renewable Energy. “In keeping with green engineering, we’re interested in a sustainable environmental plan.”
Renewable Energy is developing the project jointly with Syncarpha Solar, LLC of New York, the group that would finance and own the facility proposed to occupy a portion of 54 acres of property owned by the Davis Farms Trust at 125 Still River Road. The idea of a solar farm has been well received, but questions remain.
Jon Balewicz of Main Street, whose property abuts the proposed solar farm, inquired about electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and whether a power generation facility would negatively impact property values.
“I don’t see why it would,” replied Morey. “Energy created goes out over existing transmission lines. We are not installing high-tension lines, nor is this an energy holding station or a substation with high-voltage lines. What is generated from the sun, in this case, goes directly onto existing lines, which only carry a certain amount of electricity at one time.”
Concerns that a child might scale or dig under the 8-foot chain link fence surrounding the proposed facility prompted further clarification of how solar panels work.
“From an architectural perspective, solar facilities are quite safe,” said Brian Kopperl, CEO and co-founder of Renewable Energy Massachusetts. “The solar panels are enclosed in glass and wires are fully underground. So touching a panel will not cause a shock.”
The inverters that convert DC power from the panels to usable AC power are fully enclosed. Developers say the hum associated with solar generation is comparable to an air conditioner and the sound and EMFs drop off after about 100 feet.
The fence surrounding the facility will be designed to allow small animals to move freely underneath to avoid impacting migration patterns. Nationally, one of the primary areas of contention concerning solar farms is when a proposed facility disrupts pristine tracts of land or critical animal habitat. The proposed Bolton Orchards site is currently a gravel pit, which has minimized concerns.