McKernon wants to build solar array off Route 7

BRANDON — While discussions are continuing for a massive solar array hidden from view on one end of Brandon, a smaller array is planned in plain site of Route 7 north of town.
The McKernon Group design/build contracting firm, headquartered at the former Brandon Training School property, has filed an application with the Public Service Board to build a 132-kilowatt fixed solar array in a field just south of the company’s office.
The company is applying for a  Certificate of Public Good with the PSB, and Green Earth Energy, McKernon’s renewable energy division, will do the installation.
The array would be sited in a 1-2-acre field located between the Estabrook Field recreation area and the McKernon office building on the west side of Route 7, 320-feet from the roadway. While there are a few mature trees and smaller areas of vegetation, the array would be visible from Route 7 and from the recreation area.
While the application notes that the town of Brandon “has not adopted any screening requirement for solar projects,” that is about to change. Town Zoning Administrator Anna Scheck submitted some town plan updates regarding solar screening to the selectboard at the regular meeting at the end of November.
The board passed a motion to apply to the PSB for intervener or party status on the project application.
Selectman Seth Hopkins asked about the application — specifically where it stated that the project is not within a historic site. Hopkins noted that the former Brandon Training School property is a designated historic site and questioned that part of the application.
Selectboard Chair Doug Bailey said, unlike the Ranger Solar project planned for 100 acres off Syndicate Road out of view on the southern end of town, the McKernon project will be much more visible.
“Clearly if you enter Estabrook Field, it will be staring you in the face,” he said. “This falls under what I personally don’t like in solar fields. They would have to put in subsequent plantings to screen it.”

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