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Retirement complex to install new solar array

MIDDLEBURY — The Residence at Otter Creek may soon feature a 150kW solar array that could defray around 25 percent of the retirement community’s annual energy bill.
Bullrock Corp. — former owners of The Residence (then known as The Lodge at Otter Creek) — proposed installing a solar array consisting of roughly 700 panels on a total of 35 racks dispersed on one acre of land located at 57 Star Point Drive, adjacent to the retirement community off Middle Road in Middlebury.
It’s a net metering project that, if approved by the Vermont Public Service Board, would generate enough electricity to power 40 average-size Vermont homes, according to Chad Farrell, principal of Encore Redevelopment, the company that would install the project.
“The goal is to have the project built and producing electricity before the end of the year,” Farrell said.
Middle Road Ventures owns the property in question and would lease it for the project. MRV also owns an existing 500kW solar array next to where the new project would be built, according to the Public Service Board application.
Proponents of the solar plan claim the array would be built on a south facing slope and would be largely shielded from public view.
“The location of the array is set back from the road and will be additionally screened by the alcove nature of the landscape combined with existing vegetation and secluded nature of the property,” reads the application. “When the average viewer is standing on Star Point Drive they would be unable to view the proposed project.”
Mark and Donna Perrin live at 1637 Creek Road. Mark Perrin said he and his family would be able to see the new solar array, just as they are able to see the 500kW project. But Perrin added, “We’re OK with that,” noting a tree line that will partially obscure the impact of the array in the distance. He said he would have a different opinion if the green energy plan in question were large, and stationed on a ridge.
Farrell stressed the proposed 150kW array would be separate and distinct from the 500kW project. The two would have separate ownership, different customers and have separate connections to the state’s electricity grid. Farrell noted that 100 percent of the electricity created by the solar array would be funneled into the grid, and, as a net-metered project, The Residence, as the customer, would see energy credits on its electricity bill as compensation.
Charlie Kireker is managing partner at Middle Road Ventures. He said the new solar array could be accessed using the same road that serves the current 500kW project.
“The site has a lot of the same attributes as the first one,” Kireker said, noting its substantial exposure to sunlight while being relatively unobtrusive.
He noted Bullrock Corp. and its CEO, Gregg Beldock, have been increasingly focusing on construction of renewable energy projects. It was this past July that Bullrock confirmed an agreement in principal with Norwood, Mass.-based LCB Senior Living to acquire Bullrock’s senior care holdings in Vermont, including The Lodge at Otter Creek, The Lodge at Shelburne, The Lodge at Quarry Hill (under construction), and a home health care business called Enhanced Services Program. The deal was called one of the largest private transactions in the state’s history, with Beldock placing it “in the nine figures.”
Property transfer records on file at the Middlebury Town Clerk’s office confirm the former Lodge property was sold on Aug. 7 for $24 million.
“The Residence at Otter Creek is very interested in procuring clean, renewable electricity to meet its energy demands,” Farrell said.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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