Deerfield Select Board gives informal OK to solar farm

For the Gazette
Published: 7/9/2018 11:53:51 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — A solar farm project at the Chet and Ann Ostrowski farm that sits along the Interstate 91 corridor took its first step in front of the Select Board.

The project is promoted by local attorney Gary Gruber and national solar group Hexagon Energy, which hopes to align the efforts with a Massachusetts grant.

If all goes to plan, the solar project could be online by year’s end and supplying 2 megawatts of electricity. It will, eventually, be hooked up directly to Eversource’s western Massachusetts grid and could provide electricity for about 300 homes, Hexagon’s Development Manager Scott Remer told the Select Board.

“Looking at this project, I believe that it is a win-win-win-win, all around for everybody,” Gruber said.

The four wins the lawyer was speaking of were: for the town and its tax revenue, for the farmer who won’t have to worry about a wet or dry season for this to be profitable, for Hexagon’s profits and for residents who will be able to reduce their carbon footprint.

The Select Board gave an informal OK to the project that is in its infancy. The board voted not to exercise its right to first refusal on the land, which helps project backers feel more comfortable progressing in their dealings.

Remer noted the project is not one that is a very long-term commitment, but rather something with a 25- to 30-year life span. From there, it can be renewed or the land owner, the farmer, can make a decision.

“We don’t foresee forever tying up this property and removing it from any kind of agricultural production,” Remer said.

Solar panels plus crops?

He said there is a hope on his end to see if they can farm the land while having the solar farm there. Remer said his company is still exploring how to best do it, but it can be a tricky project, requiring panels to be higher off the ground and to find the right crop.

“But I would love to do that and I think it’d be really cool for Deerfield to be on the map with that,” Remer said.

Select Board Chairwoman Carolyn Shores-Ness replied, “We’d absolutely support that,” adding that if they chose to try to farm the land at the same time, the board will put more pressure on Eversource for them.

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