Bristol dump could get solar array

THE ACORN ENERGY Co-op hopes to build a 500 kW solar array on the site of the former Bristol landfill. In this Google Earth image, the blue lines represent the co-op’s proposed layout of the array’s 1,862 solar panels.

BRISTOL — The Acorn Energy Co-op, which has successfully completed two community solar projects in Addison County, believes it has identified a great site for a third: the former Bristol landfill.
If given the green light, the 500 kilowatt project would consist of 1,862 solar panels, 400 watts each, and cover slightly more than 2 acres, according to the Co-op’s proposal.
“This (sort of array) would be helpful for residents who either don’t have a roof that faces anywhere near south, or have trees blocking or for whatever reason,” said Co-op board member Richard Carpenter, who gave a presentation to the Bristol selectboard Monday night. “It’s a way to buy in to renewable solar energy without adding something permanently to your property.”
To adhere to social distancing guidelines and policies, the selectboard meeting was conducted remotely, via Zoom.
Acorn Energy Co-op members were there to seek a preliminary go-ahead from the town, so they could start preparing a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which the group hopes to complete within the next two weeks. In the same time frame the Co-op also plans to file a 45-day notice with the Vermont Public Utilities Commission.
“This is a Vermont project being developed by Vermonters for Vermonters,” said Co-op board President Greg Pahl at the meeting. “It helps to keep our energy dollars circulating within the local economy rather than being siphoned out of state for out-of-state investors.”
After the presentation there was a consensus of the selectboard to proceed with the project proposal, with the understanding that the details of an MOU — such as lease terms and municipal taxes — would need to be worked out, said Bristol Town Administrator Valerie Capels on Wednesday.
According to the current proposal, Acorn would lease the land from the town of Bristol and recruit investors to pay the building costs, which are currently estimated at about $1.75 million.
The Acorn Energy Co-op was founded in 2008 as a spinoff from the Addison County Relocalization Network (ACoRN), with a focus on promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency for its members in Addison, Rutland and Chittenden counties.
The Co-op has successfully completed solar projects in Middlebury (2011) and Shoreham (2020).
This project, if approved, would be more than three times larger than the previous two.
Reach Christopher Ross at [email protected]

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