A solar farm as development and a solar power purchase agreement at Holcomb Farm

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The Town of Granby has two solar-based projects coming down the road that are both interesting and very different when compared.

The first project you may know about—a solar farm is being proposed by DESRI Renewables LLC on the Monrovia site located on 90 Salmon Brook Street and 35 Floydville Road. About 60 percent of the farm is in Granby and the rest, 40 percent, is in East Granby.

The site, if built as proposed, will produce 100 MW of power with a target operation date of December 2026. The energy produced on-site will be sold back to Eversource using an interconnection point in North Bloomfield that will feed back to Agawam.

If built, tax revenue over the 25- to 40-year life of the facility could approach $175,000 per year making this site our fourth largest taxpayer. The developer may also propose a one-time impact payment to the town, which could be up to $750,000, or he may propose a portion of the property be preserved for future economic development.

While the benefits of solar power are fairly well known and include less reliance on fossil fuel, it’s renewable, it will create approximately 150 construction jobs, and it will power approximately 24,000 homes annually while adding no new children to the school system. It also creates new concerns that the town needs to study and mitigate if necessary, including hazmat training in the event of a fire, and rules to promote safe storage if battery installations are done on-site.

A community meeting was conducted on March 18. Members of various town boards and commissions had an opportunity to hear the presentation and ask questions.

One of the common themes during that meeting was the Siting Council, a state board that oversees these types of facilities, sometimes making important decisions on local matters — and that is somewhat concerning to our town.

On the surface, this project appears to be good for the community and the environment, but more homework needs to be done on the proposal before we embrace the much-needed tax revenue.

The developer hosted an open house on May 22 for residents to learn more about the project. Information about the proposed solar facility is also posted on the town website on the Community Development Department webpage.

Separately, the town is working with the Friends of Holcomb Farm to consider a solar array constructed under a power purchase agreement that would stabilize the cost of electricity used at the farm while also producing a small revenue stream to help offset other costs of the farm.

So, there could be two very different solar applications coming to town in the near future—one being a farm and the other being used on a farm. Stay tuned to stay informed.