Solar firm changes fence, number of panels for Trebo Road project

After making specific changes to its initial plans, Solar Renewable Energy Development LLC has presented a Memorandum of Understanding to the Chester Select Board  in hopes of quick approval of the certificate of public good so that it could move ahead with its solar farm installation at Trebo Road off Route 103 North. Solar Renewable Logo

The certificate of public good is issued by the state Public Service Board, which, according to its website,“supervises the rates, quality of service, and overall financial management of Vermont’s public utilities: cable television, electric, gas, telecommunications, water and large wastewater companies.” A project must meet 10 criteria to receive the certificate, including not having an “undue adverse effect on esthetics, historic sites, air and water purity, the natural environment, the use of natural resources, and the public health and safety …”

The original plan called for 8,000 to 9,000 vertically mounted solar photovoltaic modules producing between 280 to 295 watts each, a 7-foot chain linked fence, and two white inverter enclosures.

Key changes to the plan include, 8,160 vertically mounted modules of 295 watt totaling 2.0 megawatts. The 7-foot chain link fence was changed to a 4- foot wooden agricultural style fence and the exterior of the two enclosures will be outfitted in a matted earth tone color of either Pueblo Tan or Cadet Gray. That chain link fence garnered a major objection from neighbors, who went before Public Service Board attorneys in late March to request the shorter, agricultural fence. Kirk Kehoe, whose home is just north of the site, said at the March meeting that his family will be “looking at this for the next 25 years. Could the area be surrounded by a farm style fence?”

Sam Comstock, who abuts the project to the south, expressed concern about overgrown vegetation and was also seeking some screening.

In addition to the 50-foot buffer from Trebo Brook, Solar Renewable now is agreeing to maintain a 25-foot setback from the property line shared by neighbors to its north, and to plant more shrubbery north and south of the project, in an effort to offer more privacy and reduce sight lines. The company said it will not have to blast as part of the project and construction will be restricted to 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The company hopes to get the project online by September.

— Karen Zuppinger

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About the Author: Karen Zuppinger in a freelance writer and Chester resident. Her work has appeared in Vermont Magazine and Assisi's Online Journal of Arts and Letters. She is a winner of America's Best Short Fiction Award.

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