Deerfield Planning Board gives green light to solar arrays at old landfill

By CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer

Published: 08-08-2023 12:45 PM

DEERFIELD — The solar array proposed for the town’s former landfill can move forward following the Planning Board’s approval of its site plan on Monday evening.

With the green light given, Deerfield Renewables LLC, alongside Nexamp, can proceed with a 2.95-megawatt, 9.9-acre solar array at 42 Lee Road, which is also the same parcel that contains the Transfer Station. Deerfield Renewables is renting the land through a lease agreement, and energy produced from the system will be sent to Eversource and the local energy grid, according to Nexamp representative Henry Barrett.

The approval comes after a site visit and the receipt of a Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection permit for the project, which Planning Board Chair Denise Mason said fulfills their peer review requirement.

“Typically on a project this size, we ask for a peer review, but DEP is the peer reviewer here,” Mason explained.

While the Planning Board unanimously approved the project, 6-0 — Rachel Blain was absent — several residents raised concerns about potential noise issues stemming from the project.

“A constant hum can cause health effects,” said resident Marci Nault. “We all moved to this area for peace and quiet. How long is this construction going to go on? How much noise is it going to cause?”

Nault was joined by Roy Gregor, an abutter of the property, who raised concerns about the buzzing of the battery at July’s hearing.

If the weather holds out, Barrett said, construction is expected to begin on the array in the fall and would last for approximately three months. He added there are requirements in the DEP permit regarding noise.

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Additionally, Mason and Barrett said if there are any issues with sound once the array is operational, the town can explore enforcement measures to reduce the noise.

“Picture the ambient noise of your house — it is going to be significantly less than that,” Barrett said of what the nearest residence would experience. “We can work with the town to mitigate any of those issues.”

In terms of installation, Weston & Sampson engineer Nick Granata said there will be no blasting on the site and the landfill cap will not be disturbed. The landfill was used by the town from 1940 to about 1997, according to the lease between the town and Deerfield Renewables.

“We’re just putting things on top of the earth as it is now,” he said.

Planning Board members noted they felt comfortable about the project’s decibel levels when they took a tour of the property in July, with Andrea Leibson noting the array’s inverter is 500 feet from the nearest residence and Kathleen Watroba adding the project represents positive growth for the community.

“I appreciate your feedback and concern. My message is that there will be impacts within the community,” Watroba said. “To put a solar array in that is being managed by a reputable company that is producing power that is not damaging our planet may be something we have to look at as part of the growth of our community.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.

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