By Patrick O’Grady
Valley News Correspondent
Plainfield — Zoning Board and Planning Board approvals are the likely next steps for a proposed solar array on elementary school property after the School Board last week approved agreements with the two entities involved in the project.
School Board Chairwoman Kate Whybrow said the board unanimously approved a power purchase agreement with Barrington Power and a 25-year lease agreement for the land with Norwich Solar Technologies of White River Junction. Depending on when additional approvals are obtained, the array, which will supply the school with its electricity needs, could be built this summer.
One of the concerns among the public was whether the array would be located in the middle of the field behind the school’s parking lot, where there is a popular trail network. Siting options presented by Norwich Solar Technologies included one in the field and one completely off the field, which would require the clearing of trees, Whybrow said. A third option placed the array in a narrower configuration on the field but along the border with the trees.
“We kind of did a combination,” Whybrow said. “It will not be in the center of the field but not in the woods completely. It is set back in the trees some and will require some clearing.”
Whybrow also said the 2-acre array will not impact the trails. One issue that has been resolved is a payment in lieu of taxes plan, or PILOT, that Barrington Power, of Perkinsville, will pay.