Connecticut will soon become home to what developers call the largest solar farm in all of New England.
Hundreds of acres in East Windsor, including land that has been a gravel pit, are planned to be used for a massive project.
Much of a 485-acre swath of farms, quarries, and other properties will be covered with solar panels in the near future.
“This is homegrown energy right here in Connecticut," said Aaron Svedlow, of the site's developer, Gravel Pit Solar. "New England has been a little bit behind in some of the utility scale development we see these size projects in the Midwest fairly routinely.”
The land will soon produce enough electricity to power 12,000 homes in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, according to Svedlow.
“As more renewables are built and put onto the grid and as a higher percentage of the overall energy mix is renewables that price suppression will happen. And prices should stabilize especially in the summer months when we need energy the most,” he said.
Besides potential help for electric customers, the project has marked a big win for the town of East Windsor.
“Gravel Pit Solar is in a universe all of its own because the size of it in terms of the acreage, the mega wattage -- this is a unique project in New England there's nothing comparable to it,” said First Selectman Jason Bowsza.
Bowsza added his team and the developer reached an agreement in which Gravel Pit Solar will pay $378,000 per year in property taxes, making it one of the largest taxpayers in town.
“The tax implications are considerable. That is just about 1% of total operating revenue for the year,” Bowsza said.
Land slated for the solar farm has plenty of ATV and mini-bike tracks -- signs of trespassing, dumping, and underage drinking the town also hopes the fenced-in project will discourage.
“It will eliminate some of the attractive nuisance issues that have happened on that property over time,” Bowsza said.
The solar farm has faced little opposition, beyond concerns over the loss of farmland. The town and developer said it's an issue they have addressed.
The proposal received unanimous approval from the CT Siting Council, which oversees the placement of infrastructure projects like these.
Gravel Pit Solar has filed a plan to begin construction this June, with a scheduled completion date of late 2021.