North Stonington approves payments for 125-acre solar array

North Stonington — The town's selectmen approved an agreement with a solar company last week that will put the 125-acre array one step closer to construction.

Coronal Energy will pay $101,259 to the town for the first year after the array is constructed.

The company is developing the "Pawcatuck River Solar" project on land owned by a subsidiary of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe along Ella Wheeler Road south of Interstate 95.

The agreement allows the company to pay the town directly a fixed amount over the next 20 years in lieu of property taxes, a method authorized through state law.

That payment will grow 1.75 percent each year, to a total of $140,795. In total, Coronal will pay the town $2.4 million in payments-in-lieu of taxes, or PILOT, over the 20-year life of the payment schedule.

The 15-megawatt array will be composed of 58,000 panels. On average, the array will power 3,700 homes per year.

Coronal obtained a power purchase agreement through a state bidding process last year, giving it a 20-year contract to sell power to Eversource and United Illuminating.

Russell Edwards, project development manager from Coronal Energy, told selectmen two weeks ago that the Pawcatuck River array is still more than a year away from construction.

Environmental permits would need to be secured, as well as approval from the state Siting Council, which permits the construction of electrical generating facilities and power lines.

Local review is not required in this case, First Selectman Shawn Murphy said, though the public may comment during Siting Council meetings.

"Both the land owner and the Town will benefit through the receipt of revenue, and the entire region also with the environmental benefits of the renewable energy generated," Murphy wrote in a statement.

The tribe plans to lease the land to Coronal Energy for the solar array, which will be completely removable when the power purchasing contract expires.

A representative of Coronal Energy was not immediately available for comment.

n.lynch@theday.com

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