Large-scale solar arrays proposed

Staff Writer
Published: 2/4/2019 7:31:51 PM

HAWLEY – Two solar energy companies have proposed building large-scale arrays in Hawley.

The latest application and proposal – the third in several months – will be presented to Hawley’s Conservation Commission on Thursday. The application was submitted by ASD Hawley MA Solar LLC.

The proposals must receive the commission’s approval to move forward, and that hinges on whether the projects are located on or near wetlands. The parcels will be assessed by an outside consultant, Stockman Associates, when the snow thaws.

Two other solar installations, each submitted by Cypress Creek Renewables, were reviewed by the commission late last year, Community Engagement Manager Josh Hotvet said. The installations are to be located at 1900 Hawley Road and 292 East Hawley Road. Each installation will generate power for 850 homes, and is projected to cost $10 to $11 million dollars. Cypress Creek has placed one more Hawley proposal on hold. Cypress Creek intends to submit an application to MassSMART, a state-run initiative that provides incentives to energy companies, and has also applied to build a solar installation in Monroe, Hotvet said. 

Crawford speculated that Hawley may have been eyed for several solar energy projects due to its relatively inexpensive land or its fairly relaxed permitting process.

The solar installations would boost Hawley’s economy, Hotvet said. Cyprus Creek plans to hire local workers and source local equipment. The projects would also generate tax revenue for Hawley. 

Crawford suggested the solar projects do have some downsides, though. Each installation will require some tree clearing, for example. Also, Crawford expressed concern about solar companies abandoning installations if changing technology renders them obsolete — leaving behind “a five-acre junkyard” for Hawley to deal with.

“Towns should have some reasonable way of regulating these projects in a way that is not prohibitive, but to make sure the town is protected,” Crawford said.

Cypress Creek will submit a bond to the town to offset removal costs, if the installation becomes obsolete, Hotvet said.

Hawley will review the three projects when the snow thaws. 

Reach Grace Bird at gbird@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 280


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