Glocester farm’s solar project moving forward

Glocester farm’s solar project moving forward

GLOCESTER – Construction on the 1.8-megawatt solar array at White Oak Farm will begin this summer after receiving administrative approval from Glocester officials last Wednesday, Aug. 5.

The solar array is designed to help sustain White Oak’s farming operations during low-performing harvests. For five generations, White Oak produced peaches, apples, various vegetables, sweet corn, blueberries, raspberries and pumpkins. With the new solar project, the farm will continue to do so for years to come, say the owners.

Construction will begin soon and be completed by the end of the year, according to those behind the project. Developers said the project will not be visible from the road by the majority of neighbors.

The Phillips family has owned the farm for five generations since 1937, and remains in the family under the ownership of Roger, Patricia and Paul Phillips. The farm started as a dairy farm and later transitioned into an apple orchard.

Roger Phillips said the project will bring a predictable revenue source to an industry that’s very unpredictable while allowing the land to provide something more than vegetables.

“The synergy between solar power and our crops was something that was very important to us,” he said.

Phillips said the solar array will not impact crops and will utilize minimal cleared land. The 78-acre farm will remain in operation while the solar array will take up approximately 6 acres.

Zoning Board members, during a project hearing last October, called the project a demonstration of what the town’s solar ordinance should promote for renewable energy on farmland.

The power generated from the solar array will go into the state’s net metering program. Green Development partnered with the family on the project, and will pay Glocester a tax of $5,000 per megawatt, or an estimated $9,000 per year.

Green Development holds a 25-year lease on the property, and is responsible for returning the land back to its previous condition.

“A quarter of a century from now, I hope Roger’s granddaughter is harvesting crops knowing the land is also producing clean, renewable energy and helping to reduce carbon emission for future generations,” said Mark DePasquale of Green Development.