Petition for East Lyme solar field before Siting Panel

East Lyme - The state Siting Council is reviewing a company's proposal to build a renewable-energy solar field on part of a 76-acre land parcel on Grassy Hill and Walnut Hill roads.

A limited liability company of Middletown-based Greenskies Renewable Energy is seeking to install solar panels capable of producing 5 megawatts of energy, according to a petition filed with the Siting Council. The renewable energy project, with an expected 25-year lifespan, would use 17,500 photovoltaic panels. The petition asserts that the project supports the state's renewable energy goals and provides "clean, renewable energy produced locally."

The property, located at 40 and 44 Grassy Hill Road, 89 Walnut Hill Road and Walnut Hill Road Rear, is in a rural area near the Montville border, according to the petition.

"The site was chosen because it's an ideal piece of property," said Greenskies Senior Vice President Andrew Chester on Tuesday. He explained that the proposed area for the solar development is flat with "great southern exposure." The site was formerly slated for residential use but has been vacant for years, he said.

The limited liability company "GRE 314 East Lyme," with Greenskies President Michael Silvestrini as its principal, is officially petitioning the Siting Council to waive the requirements for a "Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need."

In 2011, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection chose two renewable energy proposals - the East Lyme solar park and a Somers solar center - and granted them permission to secure purchasing agreements with electricity companies, according to a DEEP document. The selection was in accordance with Public Act. No 11-80, which supported renewable energy for the state.

The solar project would generate enough renewable energy to "supply the electricity needs of nearly 750 households" and would produce fewer nitrogen oxide, sulfur oxide and carbon dioxide emissions than "conventional fossil fuel generation," the petition states.

State Sen. Art Linares, R-Westbrook, co-founded Greenskies with Silvestrini, according to the company's website. The renewable energy company's clients include the state Department of Transportation, Wal-Mart and Target.

The Siting Council, which has until June 17 to make a decision, will conduct a field review beginning at 40 Grassy Hill Road at 2 p.m. Thursday. The applicant will then present the proposal at a 3 p.m. public hearing at Town Hall, which also serves as an opportunity for parties and intervenors to ask questions. No one has officially filed with the state to appear as a party or intervenor for the project, according to Linda Roberts, the council's executive director.

The public will have a chance to discuss the project at a 7 p.m. hearing that day at Town Hall.

k.drelich@theday.com

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