– edited by Roger Lohr
According to an article on TimesArgus.com, a Williamstown, Vermont 16-acre property site off Exit 5 of Interstate 89 is slated to become the largest solar farm in the state. Triland Partners, a Massachusetts firm is submitting plans to transform a gently sloping plateau into a 2.1 megawatt solar farm with 8,948 solar panels.
The Williamstown Selectboard has approved a waiver that should expedite the state Public Service Board’s pending review of the project and TriLand Partners is expected to submit a formal petition to the Board early next month. The location is in “close proximity of Washington Electric Cooperative’s existing three-phase service line,” according to TriLand’s managing general partner. The renewable energy generated by the proposed solar farm would be sent onto the state’s electric grid in keeping with the Vermont Energy Efficiency and Affordability Act. The law, which was passed in 2008, established a mandate of producing 25% of the state’s energy from renewable sources by 2025.
Documents filed with the town suggest a “nominal upgrade” to existing transmission system would be needed to accommodate the interconnection, which would be financed by TriLand. The base of the sloping panels, which would be grouped in arrays of 12 to 24, would be roughly four feet off the ground and with the tops between eight and nine feet off the ground. However, documents indicate the topography of the site, coupled with surrounding woodlands, should mean the solar farm won’t be “… highly visible from public viewing locations.”
In addition to the nearly 9,000 solar panels, the plan also calls for the construction of two pre-engineered metal structures, each of which will house four 260-kilowatt inverters needed to convert photovoltaic electricity from direct current to alternating current so that it can be safely conducted to the grid. The buildings, which will each be 10 feet high, nine feet wide and 36 feet long, will be located on the eastern perimeter of the field and screened in order to minimize visibility from abutters and adjacent roads, according to Garden.
The company says ornamental fencing will be installed along the Route 64 portion of the property as a security measure and the existing entrance to the property, which is part of the designated Vermont Association of Snow Travelers snowmobile trail network, will not be disrupted. A kiosk to provide info about the solar project and Williamstown history is also planned.