Two large solar arrays proposed in Wareham
Two large solar arrays have been proposed in Wareham. According to developers they would be able to power thousands of homes, and generate hundreds of thousands of dollars for the town.
However, building the arrays would require clearing over 100 acres of wooded land, much to the concern of Conservation Commission members during a hearing on Wednesday night, July 1.
One of the proposed arrays would be built in a 76 acre plot of land in the area of 140 Tihonet Road. The other would be on a 44 acre plot in the area of 27 Charge Pond Road.
Combined, the two solar developments would generate enough energy to power about 12,000 homes, according to Project Developer Zack Farkas, of Borrego Solar Systems.
While the solar arrays could produce large amounts of renewable energy, members of the Conservation Commission expressed their concerns about the plans to clear so many trees to make space for the arrays.
Sandra Slavin said “this is a big area to say ‘sorry squirrels, and skunks, and possums, and raccoons, you’re losing your home.’”
Others on the commission asked developers if they planned on replanting trees elsewhere in town, or doing anything else to compensate for the loss of trees.
Farkas responded by saying that “we do plan on working with the Planning Board to find a way to offset, or work with the town to minimize the impact of the trees being cleared on site.”
He also said that as a renewable energy source, the solar arrays would have a “net benefit” for the environment despite the tree clearing.
Farkas later said that developers plan on working with the town to make a Payment in Lieu of Taxes, or PILOT agreement. The exact amount of money is unclear at this time, but Farkas estimated that developers would pay $500,000 to $600,000 to the town annually.
The Town Engineer is still reviewing plans for the two solar arrays, so the public hearings for both of them were continued to the next Conservation Commission meeting on July 15. No decisions were made on July 1, regarding whether or not to allow the construction of either solar array.