New Haven solar array crosses a hurdle, but faces a new challenge

NEW HAVEN — Burlington-based Cross Pollination Inc. reached a major milestone toward its proposed 2.2 megawatt solar power project off Route 7 in New Haven when on July 8 the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) issued a certificate of public good.
But New Haven resident John Madden, saying the project would ruin the aesthetics of the region, asked the PSB to reconsider or alter its July 8 order. Within 10 days that a certificate of public good is issued, there is a window for individuals to file a motion of reconsideration.
Slated for a 40-acre plot of land on the west side of Route 7 across from Hill Top RV Center, the project would generate enough electricity to juice 500 homes annually — or enough solar energy to power roughly 77 percent of New Haven’s 650 homes — Cross Pollination engineers said.
In a letter to the PSB, Madden quoted a section from the board’s regulations that states: “An in-state facility … will not have an undue adverse effect on esthetics, historic sites, air and water purity, the natural environment and the public health and safety.”
The proposed 78 solar trackers would be spaced about 140 feet apart. They would be set back from Route 7 at least 250 feet and at least 300 feet from all adjacent property boundaries. Power lines would travel through the ground to structures that resemble sugar shacks and the open space between the trackers would be used to raise organic livestock.
Despite these aesthetic provisions, Madden feels the trackers have no place in New Haven.
“The proposed industrial scale solar powered electricity production facility will have an undue adverse effect on the rural, agricultural, scenic and historic site, and on our community and Vermont,” Madden wrote in his motion. “Protecting those irreplaceable resources is in the public good … There certainly are appropriate locations for use of solar power for the industrial production of electricity, in an industrial zone in an urban part of Vermont. The sun shines on the whole state.”
The PSB is considering Madden’s motion, but no timeline has been set for when the board will issue a final decision.
Reporter Andrew Stein is at [email protected].
CORRECTION: An article on Page 3A of last Thursday’s Independent incorrectly described the type of solar panels to be used in a proposed project off Route 7 in New Haven as “solar trackers.” Actually the Public Service Board gave a certificate of public good to the company Cross Pollination for a solar farm that uses fixed panels like the ones at the Ferrisburgh Solar Farm.
“Our original proposal was based on dual axis trackers. When we initially presented our plan to the town we met some resistance over the size of the trackers … at their highest position they would have been 22 feet,” said Cross Pollination President Paul Lekstutis. For that reason, the company changed its proposal from the movable trackers to a more densely situated set of fixed panels that are smaller and closer to the ground. 

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