From The Journal Inquirer

February 10, 2016

By Howard French

ENFIELD — Two solar-energy companies are eyeing land here for major solar farms to produce clean energy for the state’s power grid.

Mayor Scott Kaupin said Tuesday, the town has been contacted by Southern Sky Renewable Energy of Boston and Ranger Solar, which is based in New York City with a major office in Maine.

Both proposals are very preliminary, Kaupin said. He added that proposals for a commercial project on farmland or other open space would have to get approval from the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

The Southern Sky plan involves property owned by the Catholic Cemeteries Association, Archdiocese of Hartford, near St. Bernard Cemetery off Park Street, Kaupin said.

A Southern Sky official did not immediately respond to requests for information.

Ranger Solar President Adam Cohen said Tuesday his company is looking at placing a 20-megawatt solar facility on mostly vacant farmland adjacent to Eversource Energy’s Scitico substation, off Broad Brook Road. Cohen said his company customarily sites its solar facilities near such existing electrical installations to facilitate feeding its power into the electric grid.

The facility would generate sufficient electricity to power 5,000 homes, he said, and would require about 100 acres.

Cohen added that his company works closely with towns in which it locates to screen installations with shrubs, plantings, and other methods.

In addition to generating electricity that is not dependent on fossil fuels, he said, the facilities generate tax revenue for the towns where they are located.

The Ranger Solar website also says that farm owners benefit because the payment from the solar arrays is “typically higher than the expected return on corn, soybeans, or wheat.”

Somers First Selectwoman Lisa Pellegrini said Tuesday that she hasn’t been contacted about a new solar facility in her town, contrary to a report in the Hartford Business Journal.

Pellegrini said the existing facility in town, operated by Virginia-based Dominion Resources Inc., is a good citizen. Known as the Somers Solar Center, it occupies 50 acres along South Road.

If a new solar company should express interest in locating a facility in Somers, Pellegrini said, she would suggest that it be placed on state prison property. The town hosts two prisons, Northern Correctional Institution and Osborn Correctional Institution.