By Rob Wolfe
Valley News Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
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 Solar 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.
Norwich Solar Technologies 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 formerly worked for Norwich Technologies, recused himself from that discussion.
Norwich Technologies 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.