Proposed North Smithfield solar farm would be state’s largest

Proposed North Smithfield solar farm would be state’s largest

Town Council to consider zoning amendment for 40-megawatt project

NORTH SMITHFIELD – Green Development, a North Kingstown-based renewable energy company, has proposed a large-scale solar project for the currently undeveloped land between Iron Mine Hill Road and Route 146.

The proposed project, first discussed with the town Planning Board on March 1 and again on April 6, would include a 40-megawatt AC solar array and generate approximately $20 million in lease payments to landowners over 25 years, according to a presentation made by company representatives. The proposal is seemingly the largest under consideration in the state, the next largest being a 36.3-megawatt proposal by Energy Development Partners under consideration in West Greenwich.

According to Town Planner Tom Kravitz, the proposal is in its early stages and would require Town Council approval to obtain the required zoning ordinance amendment. The existing town ordinance allows solar projects up to six acres or 30 percent of lot size, whichever is smaller. Green Development’s proposal, said Kravitz, would likely develop approximately 200 acres for solar energy use, or about 1 percent of the entire town.

“The Planning Board generally supported the idea, but they had some questions about the ordinances as to how it was drafted,” said Kravitz.

According to the presentation, the solar project would be situated within 1.5 miles of the Woonsocket and West Farnum power substations and consist of parcels of land greater than 80 acres or with contiguous ownership greater than 80 acres. The solar arrays would be between 10 and 12 feet tall and lie a minimum of 100 feet away from property lines. After 25 years, the solar farm would be decommissioned and the land restored as green space or opened for future development.

In addition to lease payments made to landowners, the project would generate $6 million in tax payments over 25 years, states Green Development, and some $26 million in local economic benefits.. The company would also make a one-time donation to the town of $250,000 to be used for unmet needs at the town’s discretion.

The area proposed for development is generally bounded by Iron Mine Hill Road to the south, Greenville Road to the west and Route 146 to the north and northeast. The area is currently zoned as residential-agricultural and is home to the Ironwoods Golf Practice Facility.

On April 23, the Town Council will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. at North Smithfield Middle School to consider an amendment to the town zoning ordinance related to solar energy installations. The amendment would establish a Solar Photovoltaic Overlay District over the proposed development location that would allow the project to move forward to the next stage of the approval process.

According to Kravitz, the amendment would not affect the project in the area of the Holliston Sand Company recently proposed by Turning Point Energy, which would still require a zoning variance.

Michelle Carpenter, Vice President of Development for Green Development, provided the following statement to The Valley Breeze when reached for comment:

“Green Development is excited to be working with the North Smithfield Town Council and Planning Board to identify specific areas that are suitable for solar energy without impacting the town. Once this process is complete, we intend to propose specific sites and projects that will be developed in accordance with the applicable town ordinances.”

The potential site could hold about 76 homes if a solar array isn’t developed, according to the company.

Green Development’s website states that the company is the largest owner and operator of renewable energy in the state. Previous projects include two solar farms in Richmond and several wind energy developments, including the seven-turbine farm currently under construction in Johnston. A proposed three-megawatt Green Development solar project behind Route 116 in Lincoln is currently being considered by the Lincoln Planning Board.


All one needs to do is read this article ^^ to start to understand the adverse effects of solar sprawl. We need to do better than this! How about on top of the roofs at the public schools, vacant industrial sites, former Tupperware on Great Road, DPW roof top, on top of Halstead Mills, Industrial Drive, etc. Tearing down 200-acres of trees and displacing the wildlife areas that use these lands simply isn't "Green". This is by no way a jab at No. Smithfield, but on a State-wide level the call to action that we need to do better than this and create a comprehensive plan that preserves our remaining forests, wetlands and valuable ecosystems that are more constrained than ever.

North Smithfield hopefully will blaze an energy trail for all to appreciate and gain benefit as a Town and community in the State of RI...a place in the sun!
The Town is in desperate need of financial resources, as has been stated ad nausea by our current Town Administrator for schools and services, vehicles, infrastructure - all in dire need of an influx of revenue.
Well, folks, here is an opportunity to see the Town prosper and grow.

At the same time the Toen also has DEM approving and awarding the Town $400,000. to aid in the purchase and preservation of Open Space in the form of a 145 acre Town Park and opportunity here to both dedicate appropriate land for energy conservation and use as well as gaining land for conservation and use...sounds like a win, win.

North Smithfield is already the home of Power lines. Follow the money and see who is really benefiting.You might be surprised

The proposed power plant for Burrillville will supply about 900 megawatts of power and will necessitate clearing about 25 acres of land. This proposed solar farm will supply about 1/20th or 5% of that power and will necessitate clearing 200 acres?! Is it me or does this sound like insanity? Where are the "green" agitators? Do they not care that 200 acres of land will be stripped and wildlife displaced? This solar hustle needs to be exposed for what it is - unnecessary land stripping for nearly no public benefit.

What about utilizing the top of our schools, or big box stores for solar panels?