Warren OKs Windmill Hill solar farm

State approval and grid connection still remain to be done; if all goes as planned, ground would be broken next year

By Ted Hayes
Posted 1/29/21

Warren has given final approval to a plan to convert the Windmill Hill golf course on Schoolhouse Road into a seven-megawatt solar farm.

Members of the Warren Planning Board earlier this month …

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Warren OKs Windmill Hill solar farm

State approval and grid connection still remain to be done; if all goes as planned, ground would be broken next year

Posted

Warren has given final approval to a plan to convert the Windmill Hill golf course on Schoolhouse Road into a seven-megawatt solar farm.

Members of the Warren Planning Board earlier this month unanimously approved TurningPoint Energy's application, first submitted more than a year ago, to decommission the golf course in favor of the solar array. To make it happen, Warren officials had previously increased the town's cap on solar farm size from five megawatts, to eight, after a request from the firm.

The approval does not yet mean the solar farm will be built.

TurningPoint does not yet own the property, and on Friday project manager Michelle Carpenter said that although a purchase and sae agreement has been signed with the golf course's owner, the sale won't go through until all permits are in place and National Grid provides an interconnection to the electric grid. The project is currently before the state Department of Environmental Management, where permits have been requrested and are in process.

If all state approvals and grid connections come through, she said, company officials hope to break ground in 2022, with construction taking six to 12 months.

The plan
According to project attorney Bruce Cox, solar panels and infrastructure would cover approximately 20 of the site's 40.8 acres, with much of the rest set aside for buffers, or containing unbuildable wetlands. When ramped up and fully operational, Mr. Cox said the site would generate enough electricity to power approximately 1,500 homes in the area. He said Warren residents would "have the ability to in essence tie in" to the Windmill Hill feed, saving as much as 10 percent in electric costs over National Grid.

In return, he said, Warren would see approximately $33,000 per year in tangible asset taxes from the site with "no impact on the infrastructure of the town whatsoever."

Panels would reach a maximum height of 12 feet above grade, and buffers would be built around the site to lessen its visual impact.

On Schoolhouse Road, where some areas of the golf course are visible from adjacent homes, additional shielding, including the planting of seven to eight-foot trees, would be added, as would a berm in one area to block line of sight from a nearby home.

There would be access for fire trucks, and a permeable service road would bisect the property from north to south, allowing maintenance crews to reach panels when needed. TurningPoint officials said service trucks would probably not visit the property more than once or twice a year, and noted that the grass mixture they plan to spread is easy to care for and needs minimal cutting.

While a small building used as a cart shack on the north end of the property would remain, the Windmill Hill clubhouse would be demolished.

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