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The Planning Board on Monday approved changes to the site design of the planned solar array on East Road.

Adams Solar Project on Track for Spring Start

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Alan Benvides of Woodard & Curran engineering consultants explained the changes to the orginal site plan for the 1.1-megawatt solar array.

ADAMS, Mass. — Solar panels should be sprouting this spring at the old landfill on East Road.

Work on the delayed 1.1 megawatt project is expected to start by March 1, if the weather and permitting process cooperate.

"The process has taken a little longer than we all would have liked, but it's full speed ahead at this point," Sharon Barr, senior developer and project counsel for TectaSolar, told the Planning Board on Monday, thanking the town for its patience as the solar developer got its financing package completed.

The delay allowed the design of the $5 million project to be refined, she said. "We think it's a better design ... It doesn't change our obligations under the power purchase agreement."

The changes included a different framework for the panels that seats them lower and closer together. It also mixes 300-watt panels in with the planned 280-watt ones.

The most significant change, and the reason the project was back before the board, was a reorientation of the array that moved it off the steeper sides of the capped, hillside landfill and further south toward the storage garage on the site. The entire profile should be smaller and less obtrusive.

Alan Benvides, senior vice president of Woodard & Curran engineering consultants, said the project has already been through the permitting process with the state Department of Environmental Protection, the Planning Board and the Conservation Commission.

The changes have been resubmitted to MassDEP, which wanted to review the new framework because it will require lighter ballasts than the original configuration. The state is particularly concerned with weight being applied to the capped landfill, said Benvides.

The red dotted line shows the outline of the original site footprint on the five acres; the dark shows the new location of the solar panels.

Town Administrator Jonathan Butler had also suggested the project go back before both the town boards, said Benvides, but the Conservation Commission did not feel a need to review the changes primarly because the array will now be further away from the sensitive ecological areas at the site.

He expected to get the go-ahead from the state this week. The first step will be to cut the grass, and then lay down filter fabric and cover it with gravel. Some fencing will be added, but Benvides noted that posts could not be put through a capped landfill.

In response to questions from the board, he did not anticipate parking problems during construction but could not say what the final count of panels would be. The original plan called for some 4,000 to 5,000 panels; Benvides said the final calculations on the new design were being completed.

Barr added that the interconnection agreement with National Grid had been completed and that TectaSolar was applying to the state Department of Public Utilities for the net metering so town will get the energy credit.

The town is expected to save between $130,000 and $190,000 in energy costs annually over the next 15 years. TectaSolar, a division of Tecta America Corp., had expected to have the array up and online a year ago.

The board approved the redesign with little discussion and adjourned.

Tags: solar array,   solar project,   

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