Solar project coming to Greenfield-Bernardston town line

An international renewable energy developer is moving forward with plans to develop a large-scale, ground-mounted solar project on the Bernardston-Greenfield line.

The project, which will sell power to Eversource, is expected to power more than 500 homes, according to Kris Pitney, director of development at Pacifico Energy North America Properties LLC, which has offices in Boston

“We’re excited, and hopefully looking forward to providing something that’s good for the community,” Pitney said.

The property at 1417 Bernardston Road, which the company purchased at a price of $10 from Kittredge Industries last week, incorporates four parcels of land in both Greenfield and Bernardston.

“It’s essentially a commercial area,” Pitney said, noting the land’s proximity to Kringle Candle, The Steel Shed and Indoor Action. “If you look around it … essentially, we’re surrounded by highway or commercial activity.”

Pitney also said the property, which includes an older house that the company may or may not keep, is tucked back from the road.

Pacifico Energy, a Japan-based organization, recently moved into the U.S market, with projects across the Northeast, Southwest and in California.

“We only started in the Northeast in 2017,” Pitney said. “So most of our projects are still … in the early stage, like this one.”

Eric Twarog, Greenfield’s planning and development director, said Pacifico Energy received approval for a special permit from the Planning Board in fall 2019. Twarog also provided copies of the Order of Conditions issued by the Greenfield Conservation Commission, and a supplement to the order prepared by members of the Bernardston Conservation Commission.

According to meeting minutes from the public hearing on Sept. 19, 2019, no public comments were made. Board members, however, asked questions, and chair Charles Roberts shared comments from the Zoning Board of Appeals, which included a “positive recommendation” to the Planning Board, engineering superintendent and the Department of Planning and Development.

“We wanted to make sure there wasn’t going to be an issue with the approval,” Pitney said when asked about the property’s sale coming after the solar project being approved by the appropriate boards. “And Kittredge was able to accommodate us with that request.”

Pitney said the company plans to use roughly 10 acres on the Bernardston side and 5 acres on the Greenfield side for the ground-mounted solar project. According to Planning Board minutes, the total acreage of all four parcels of land is about 72 acres.

Construction is not yet underway, Pitney said, and a timeframe for the project is unknown, as it is dependent upon coordinating with utilities and scheduling with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER), as the project is operating under its Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program.

“We recognize Eversource and the Mass DOER have a lot on their plate,” Pitney said. “So we’re happy to do it whenever is reasonable for them.”

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne

Author: Going Green

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