Solar array to be located near Royalston Fish & Game Club

  •   Thomas Pearson

Staff Writer
Published: 1/30/2019 10:00:45 PM

PHILLIPSTON— The Planning Board approved a site plan review and special permit for a solar array by the New Hampshire company, Light Touch Solar LLC, after a public hearing on Monday.

The small 350 (DC) kilowatt array would be located on Route 68 across from the entrance to the Royalston Fish & Game Club. The project will cover about seven acres of the 36-acre land parcel and will be split into two halves as to avoid wetland areas. The project will require some clearing and topping of trees.

“It costs a lot to build a big array, and this was the right size for us,” said Kristen McCormick, owner of Light Touch Solar.

Nobody from the public attended the hearing at 7:15 p.m. in the Phillipston Town Hall on Monday night, despite seven notices being sent out to abutting property owners and notices posted in the newspaper. The town clerk received four signed letters back confirming receipt of the notices.

The Planning Board voted unanimously to approve the site plan on the condition they conduct a study of the soils on the land parcel, calculate anticipated stormwater runoff and plan accordingly prior to construction. Planning Board member Wayne Richard said Phillipston’s soil is especially rocky, and Light Touch runs the risk of hitting bedrock when digging a retention pond.

“They may have to redesign the retention basins based on the soils,” said Planning Board chair Bernard Malouin.

McCormick, who has experience managing a nonprofit, partnered with her husband Don McCormick to start their small-scale solar business. They manage one other solar array in New Hampshire, Kristen said. Don McCormick serves as the project developer, and has experience with solar installations working with Norwich Solar Technologies.

After a review by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), the McCormicks made changes to their plans to meet wetlands regulations. The Conservation Commission approved the plan after MassDEP’s concerns were addressed in the plans, McCormick said.

“We’re feeling good this project is going to get built,” said project engineer Frank Bicchieri of Bertin Engineering.

The Planning Board also raised the issue of electrical capacity, asking McCormick whether she knew if the array could connect to the grid. National Grid will notify Light Touch Solar whether the electrical grid has the capacity to, by Feb. 19, McCormick said. She added that National Grid is currently conducting an assessment of western Massachusetts to determine the capacity for future solar projects.

Sarah Robertson can be reached at srobertson@atholdailynews.com.


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