42 acres in Lee eyed for 5-megawatt solar array

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LEE — A California firm wants to clear-cut a hillside between Route 20 and Goose Pond to make way for a 5-megawatt solar array.

Cypress Creek Renewables of Santa Monica plans to spend $10.5 million to install the solar panels on 42 acres of forested land owned by Lee businessman Thomas Touponce.

The ground-mounted facility would be located off Chanter Road and is expected to produce enough electricity to power 1,440 single-family homes, according to the company's proposal submitted to town officials. Cypress would sell the electricity generated to Eversource, which serves the Lee area.

The Lee Planning Board is expected to begin its site plan review of the project at 6 p.m. Monday in Lee Memorial Town Hall.

If approved and built, Cypress envisions the alternative energy venture having an immediate, as well as long-term, impact on the community.

"Lee can expect spending of $5,975,000 [of the $10.5 million] in the local economy; approximately 80 full-time equivalent construction and installation jobs along with additional tax revenue over the lifetime of the project," company officials said in their proposal.

Cypress is doing an environmental assessment of the site, which has an average elevation of 1,320 feet, based on local topographical maps.

In addition to the maximum 5 megawatts of electricity produced directly to the grid, Cypress wants to have on-site battery storage of up to 2.5 megawatts.

"By adding energy storage, we are able to capture solar energy produced at less desirable times and inject that stored energy into the grid later when it has the most value to the electrical system," the proposal said.

Cypress has invested $2.3 billion in solar energy in nearly 20 states since 2014, according to company officials. They see the Lee project contributing to the state's effort to boost solar energy in the commonwealth by 1,500 megawatts through the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target program.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com and 413-496-6233.

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