Public forum on solar project set Thursday in Brooklyn
From the Norwich Bulletin
January 22, 2017
BROOKLYN – Brooklyn residents will have a chance to get answers to their questions about the proposed 50 megawatt solar array straddling the town line with Canterbury Thursday at a public forum with the developers.
Ranger Solar will be at Brooklyn Middle School at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, and First Selectmen Rick Ives said he will open the regular Board of Selectmen meeting with a presentation and question-and-answer session.
“They’ve been very upfront with us,” Ives said. “Everything they’ve told has turned out to be accurate. One thing I have to keep reminding myself is they don’t have to work with us. We have no jurisdiction over this project really, but they do keep on working with us.”
Ranger Solar won a bid to provide solar energy as part of a three-state effort to reduce the region’s reliance on natural gas infrastructure and improve the reliability and affordability of New England’s electric system.
According to its bid documents, Ranger Solar hopes to create 50 megawatts of power on 470 acres straddling Brooklyn and Canterbury.
Canterbury has 250 acres of the land and Brooklyn has 220 acres, according to Ranger Solar’s bid documents. But, according to Ranger Solar Senior Vice President and co-founder Paul Harris, Brooklyn has about 65 percent of the project.
Harris said there are 50 properties that have land abutting the site, and Ranger Solar plans to meet with all of the owners.
In Brooklyn, all the land is controlled by two owners. That land is south of Beecher Road and east of Route 169. It includes Rawson Material’s 125-acre inactive gravel operations.
The land is described in its bid documents as “active gravel mines, reclaimed gravel mine areas, invasive plant thickets, and fields. A portion of the Project area was previously proposed for a residential subdivision. There are electrical transmission lines crossing the site.”
The proposed residential subdivision is in Canterbury.
The details of the project are up to the Connecticut Siting Council to regulate. Harris said Ranger Solar plans to make its formal application to the Siting Council in 2017.
The towns do have a financial say in the project, however.
Ives said a recent state statute allows for towns to offer tax abatement for renewable energy projects. Many towns have followed suit. Ives said Harris’ characterization of the negotiations is fair.
Ives said about $50 million of investment is being put into the project, but not all of that is taxable. He said there is about $40 million that could be taxed.
Harris said the value of that equipment declines sharply over the life span of the projects, which is 20 years.
The stabilization allows the town to count on a revenue stream for the entire 20 years, Harris said.
Ives said he has had few inquiries about the project, but that might be because of the work Ranger Solar has done with those abutting the site.
“They’ve been very determined to make sure we’re aware and that the town’s aware of what’s going and that’s why we’re having this forum before they go to the siting council,” Ives said.