Solar field over active cranberry bog proposed

Feb 23, 2021

For cranberry farmer Brett Meredith, installing a solar field over his active cranberry bogs would enable him to continue farming the land.

“It’s basically letting me stay in business and keep doing what I love,” Meredith said at the Feb. 22 Planning Board meeting.

Meredith’s farm straddles the Wareham-Carver border. He is hoping to install solar fields over 28 acres of his bogs in Wareham and additional solar over his bogs in Carver.

The plan is based on a state program that incentivizes farmers to harvest solar energy in addition to their crops and which requires the land to continue to be actively farmed.

Because Meredith will continue to grow and harvest cranberries, the array is slightly unusual in its design and layout. Solar panels are further apart and significantly higher than is typical, and they are on special bases that allow them to tilt to follow the sun over the course of the day.

Sarah Stearns of firm Beales and Thomas said that the land itself was fairly well-screened from the public view by many trees.

“I think this is an excellent project, and I think it will work really well,” said Selectman Alan Slavin, who attended the meeting as a citizen.

Meg Sheehan of the Community Land and Water Coalition raised concerns about greenhouse gas emissions over the lifespan of the solar panels and about potentially contaminated stormwater runoff. Adam Schumaker of BE RE LLC, the solar company involved in the project, said that solar panels would only generate greenhouse gas during their manufacture, not during their operation.

Melissa Ferretti of the Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe asked whether any archaeological surveys were planned for the project, which is near some sites that are archaeologically significant. Stearns said no, as the project is on already-disturbed land.

The site will need to continue to be used as an active farm, although there are no specific yield requirements for the state’s incentive program.

The hearing has been continued to March 8.