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Bristol solar project moves forward

BRISTOL — The Acorn Energy Co-op and the town of Bristol have agreed on the terms for a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for a 500-kilowatt community solar array on the site of the former Bristol landfill.
If built, the array would consist of 1,862 solar panels, 400 watts each, and cover slightly more than two acres, according to the Co-op’s proposal.
The selectboard approved the MOU at its April 27 meeting. Once it’s formally signed, the Co-op can proceed with the next steps of the project, which include lining up investors and applying for a Certificate of Public Good from the Vermont Public Utilities Commission.
Project planners expect there will be minimal environmental impact to the site.
None of the infrastructure supporting the array — including racking, fencing, ballast and electrical conduit — will penetrate the existing landfill cap, said Aegis Renewable Energy President and CEO Nils Behn at a special informational meeting on April 23, which was conducted via Zoom. The Waitsfield company would be tapped to build the project if it goes forward.
Bristol Planning Commission Chair Katie Raycroft-Meyer at that same meeting expressed confidence that the solar project aligns with the Bristol Town Plan, the Bristol Energy Plan and the Addison County Regional Plan.
Aegis slightly altered the array’s proposed footprint last month after project planners toured the area with Porter Knight, director of the Bristol Trail Network (BTN).
“We really appreciate that the (Bristol) energy committee and Aegis and Acorn specifically reached out and asked to walk the trail with the BTN to see what was there and to make sure that (the solar array) would not eliminate other uses,” Knight said at the informational meeting. “From a trail standpoint we’re glad to see the landfill get used in this way.”
Bristol closed its landfill in 2015.
Acorn would be leasing the solar site from the town for 25 years, but the details of that lease remain to be worked out. Deliberation over those details is expected to continue at the selectboard’s May 11 meeting, said Town Administrator Valerie Capels.
Project planners hope to begin building the array this fall or sometime early in 2021.
Reach Christopher Ross at christopherr@addisonindependent.com.

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