CLAREMONT — The City Council took the first step on Wednesday night toward the possible construction of a 10 megawatt solar array on several parcels off River Road and Grissom Lane.
The council voted to allow North Light Energy of Falmouth, Maine, access to two city-owned parcels to conduct wetland surveys. Furthermore, the council’s vote gives the city manager authority to begin preliminary lease negotiations for the project when appropriate.
The council’s vote does not commit the city to any agreement for the property, and the city is entitled to the results of the wetlands survey at no cost.
“I see no harm in giving access, and we can see where it goes,” councilor Abigail Kier said.
The city parcels comprise about 123 acres. One is between the railroad tracks and the former Wheelabrator incinerator off Grissom Lane and includes 42 acres. The second one of 80 acres is farther north, abutting Moody Park. In between those two, North Light Energy also is looking at two other properties: a privately owned parcel of 42 acres and a 67-acre property owned by the Claremont Development Authority. In total, North Light will review the best location for the array on about 200 acres, but only 80 will be required. All four parcels are connected and border railroad tracks on the eastern side. They are in the industrial zone. The CDA already has granted access for wetlands survey, as have the owners of the private parcel.
North Light President Aaron Svedlow gave the council a slide presentation on the project.
“This project has a power contract (with Eversource), and our intent is to build it and fulfill that contract,” Svedlow said.
Though North Light has been in business only about a year, Svedlow said he has worked in the solar and wind energy field for about 12 years and told the council he has been involved in a number of projects in New England.
Svedlow said the investment will be between $12 million and $18 million and provide an estimated “$10,000 per MW/year in tax revenue.” About 80 construction jobs will be created when it is built, followed by two full-time jobs during the life of the array, estimated to be at least 25 years, according to Svedlow’s presentation. The company also will construct an access road to the city parcels for future use.
Patrick O’Grady can be reached pogclmt@gmail.