500 kw solar project planned for Shields Drive parcel

BENNINGTON — A 500-kilowatt solar project is proposed for a parcel off Shields Drive within the Maneely Corporate Park.

The Planning Commission reviewed a preliminary notice of the project on Monday, raising no objections but reserving judgment until a final permit application and plan are submitted to the state Public Utility Commission.

MHG Solar, LLC, of Manchester, proposes purchasing 25 acres off 357 Shields Drive from the Bennington County Industrial Corp., and would use about 3.5 currently forested acres of the property for the solar array.

A map with the paperwork shows the array located south of Route 279 and northeast of NSK Steering Systems America at 110 Shields Drive.

Also located in the business park is a similar size solar array developed by Maple Leaf Solar, LLC, and the Abacus Automation and Memory Clinic buildings.

According to a description of the project, an access road from Shields Drive will be extended about 600 feet to the site. The parcel is considered a "preferred site" for such projects in the town's newly adopted Energy Plan.

The group net-metering project is proposed in conjunction with Green Mountain Power.

Other details in the plan description include that there will be 2,160 solar panels, mounted on cement ballast pads, requiring no need for grading or pile-driving to install. The panels will be arranged in approximately six rows running east to west, each from approximately 600 to 650 feet in length.

The panels will be at a 30 degree angle to capture the maximum solar radiance collection, and they will be three feet above the ground at the lower edge and about nine feet above grade at the upper edge.

Planners said the location appears to be a good one for an array but said they would want to see detailed plans for screening of the facility and other details.

According to the description, the project site is close to dense forest "and should not be visible from any public roads or private residents."

The project also has been "sited to avoid wetlands and streams and other sensitive environmental resources."

Town Planning Director Daniel Monks said Thomas Hand, of MHG Solar, is expected to give a presentation on the project to the Select Board on Monday and answer questions.

Reached by phone, Hand said that the parcel was specifically selected to conform to facility siting preferences in the town Energy Plan.

Jim Therrien writes for New England Newspapers in Southern Vermont and VTDigger.org. Email: jtherrien@benningtonbanner.com. @BB_therrien on Twitter.


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