Thursday, February 18, 2016

Let There Be (lots of) Light

The solar array will take up about 8 acres of the 20 acre site
West Bay Road & Eric Carle Museum will be screened by dogwoods that can grow up to 12'

The Amherst Planning Board voted unanimously last night (6-0 with 3 absent) to approve a Site Plan Review for Hampshire College to construct a 2.55 megawatt solar array in a former 20 acre farm field off West Bay Road near Atkins Market, Eric Carle Museum and Applewood Retirement Community.

Since the Building Commissioner had ruled this energy operation was an accessory use to an education institute, the Dover Amendment would trump local rejection of the project.

But the Planning Board seemed impressed enough with the presentation so they probably would have endorsed it heartily anyway.

Nearby Orchard Valley resident John Boothroyd spoke loudly against the project questioning if solar really was carbon neutral and lamenting the loss of farmland and trees.  He also worried about glare endangering drivers along West Bay Road.

Developer Mickey Marcus assured the Board solar was more environmentally friendly with carbon savings (estimated at 2,000 tons annually) and that it's a myth solar panels cause glare saying, "They are designed to absorb sunlight."

This Amherst solar project combined with one in Hadley will provide the campus with 100% of its energy needs.  Construction is expected to take 3 to 4 months and will be completed by the fall semester.

And for the first time in its history Hampshire College will pay the town a Payment In Lieu Of Taxes over the solar project ($21,000 plus 2.5% annually for 20 years).  Although the house/barn at 1095 to the east of the project is slated for demolition.

 Farmhouse and barn east of solar project will be demolished soon

Hampshire  College bought the Ives Farm where the solar project will be located including the old farmhouse and barn over 20 years ago with the provision -- called a "life estate" -- Mr. and Mrs. Ives could live their until their deaths.  Both have now passed away.

Last year Hampshire College paid $6,377 in property taxes for the 1095 West Street property, but that  will go down substantially after the demolition (perhaps to zero).

Last year Amherst College paid us $130,000 in PILOT for the vital services of Amherst Fire Department, while UMass paid around $450,000 (for ambulance service).  Hampshire College paid nothing.

 Hadley solar array


Anonymous said...

Our new town manager should negotiate payments for fire & police services from Hampshire College. Should be at the top of his list.

Larry Kelley said...

Maybe even Temporary Town Manager Peter Hechenbleikner, since he doesn't have to worry about sucking up to anyone.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Nice plan Hampshire!

Anonymous said...

Amherst needs this kind of help. Since pot production uses an astounding 1% of all power generated in this country to keep addicts high, we need all we can get.

Anonymous said...

Solar farming is great.

Is it even true that 1% is used for growing marijuana? Lib news media is apparently okay for your purposes at the moment 9:12.

But consider that if it were truly legal everywhere (eliminating artificial price inflation), it could safely be grown outside under sunlight like corn or soybeans. And sequester CO2 instead of creating it. They call it "weed" for a reason - it is super easy to grow even for idiots.

And we would see a field of plants instead of a field of machinery.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only person who thinks solar arrays should go on the buildings using the energy and not on the farms and fields and forests?

Anonymous said...

"Am I the only person who thinks solar arrays should go on the buildings using the energy and not on the farms and fields and forests?"

Probably not the only one. I assume this is because you don't like to look at them. But why not both? If a farmer can make more money growing energy than growing plants on a portion of the land, who are we to tell them they can't?

One great idea I've seen is covered parking with solar on top. They have this in NJ and elsewhere but I haven't seen it here. Keeps the cars cool in summer and produces energy too.

Anonymous said...

You haven't seen it here? Look at the UMass visitor center parking lot.

Anonymous said...

Every parking lot in Hadley and Amherst (at UMass and Amherst College there are many more big lots, all with good solar exposure) should eventually have these "solar panel shades" - they'd be even better if they were equipped with direct charging facilities for battery-powered cars parked below (reducing the energy waste-heat from the DC-AC (then back to DC) inverters.

Anonymous said...

Pretty soon the solar arrays will blot out the sun.

Dr. Ed said...

This produces 100% of Hampshire's ENERGY NEEDS?!?

They don't need energy AT NIGHT when the sun ISN'T SHINING?
It isn't like you can store electricity, not in the volumes we are talking about here, so Hampster is gonna be rather dark at night....

Anonymous said...

De-growthers' paradise.

Anonymous said...

The world has a growing population that can't eat metal. Why are we putting solar arrays on the best soils in the country? Parking lots, the median and side of highways, rooftops make sense. Not farmland or forests or fields.

Anonymous said...

LOL @ Dr. Ed's post. think outside the box, Ed, and how small your thought process must be to actually think that is a good point to make (of which I'm sure you do).

And also funny how ANON 11:53 brings up an idea thats already implemented at UMass, lol.