Green Development preps for next phase on Iron Mine Hill Road

Green Development preps for next phase on Iron Mine Hill Road

An aerial photograph captured this week by local drone operator Tim Forcier shows the progress on a portion of the Green Development solar farm site looking north toward Dowling Village and Smithfield Road. (Photo courtesy of Tim Forcier)

NORTH SMITHFIELD – Green Development is making progress on its 160-acre solar farm off Iron Mine Hill Road and expects to begin installing solar panels within the next two months.

Green Development Spokesperson Bill Fischer told The Valley Breeze last week that site work is now 95 percent complete on the property, which encompasses a former junkyard and wooded area between Route 146 and Greenville Road. The next step, he said, is to install racking, followed by approximately 122,000 solar panels.

“Once completed, the project will be the largest operating solar farm in Rhode Island and one of the largest in New England,” he said in a statement.

Tree clearing for the project began last winter as company representatives secured their final approvals for the 38.4-megawatt solar farm. Construction began in earnest over the summer, with some neighbors raising concerns about blasting noise and vibrations.

Work is now visible on the hilly site from several points around town, including the Dowling Village complex across Route 146 and in aerial drone photographs captured by a local resident this week.

Fischer said the company is currently spreading topsoil, loam and seeding mix while also installing piping for detention ponds and underground duct banks throughout the site. The site currently has about 50 to 65 workers, he said, but that number is expected to increase to between 100 and 175 for the installation of the panels.

“We estimate the commercial operation date for this project to occur in early December,” he said.

Fischer said the panels are rated for 48.5 megawatts of direct current energy output but will only produce 38.4 megawatts of alternating current output once power is fed into the grid. The Planning Board last year gave final approval for a 38.4-megawatt project, plans that Fischer said are unchanged.

The project is expected to increase the company’s energy holdings in Rhode Island significantly. By comparison, their seven-turbine wind farm in Johnston, considered the largest onshore wind farm in the state, produces 21 megawatts of electricity.

National Grid is also building a new substation to accommodate the solar farm. Last month, the utility company requested a noise exemption to complete late-night work at the site before withdrawing it. Spokesperson Ted Kresse said at the time the exemption wasn’t necessary based on the amount of work already completed.

According to Fischer, the substation transmission work is now complete, and Green Development expects to install security fencing in early June.

The project is expected to generate $268,800 in annual tax revenue for the town, or about $5.4 million over its expected 20-year lifespan. According to Fischer, the energy produced will be sent through National Grid to Rhode Island municipalities and nonprofits to offset their electricity use.

Comments

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