Giant solar farms to be built in East Lyme, Somers

Published October 04, 2013 | Last Modified November 01, 2013
By Joseph Wenzel IV and Kevin Hogan

EAST LYME - Giant farms are coming to two towns in Connecticut, but they aren't farms in the traditional sense.

They will hold acres of solar panels designed to power thousands of homes, however, there are some concerns about the approval process, and the environment.

A 43-acre farm called Greenskies Farm is being in East Lyme, which will be designed to produce electricity, renewable solar electricity.

According to developers, 16,000 solar panels will be planted on the hilltop off Grassy Hill Road, which will be enough juice to power 6,300 homes.

"We're hoping to be completed by May at the latest," said project superintendent Travis Burton.

The project is being developed by Middletown based Greenskies Renewable Energy. They partnered with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to build two, 5 megawatt solar farms.

A similar project is planned to be built in Somers. The farm will produce taxable revenue which is a relief to some taxpayers.

"They say it'll bring in tax revenue so I guess that's the story," said Edith Fletcher of Somers.

Leaders of East Lyme and Somers were unable to provide input to the state siting council and DEEP, who negotiated the deal.

Project leaders explained to neighbors Thursday night on what they're doing and how they'll benefit.

"The fact that projects of this size have been removed from local jurisdictions to the siting council makes it even more difficult because none of us are really in the loop," said East Lyme First Selectman Paul Formica.

There's no drastic slopes," Burton said. "This will all be solar panels here and everything lower will step down. There are detention ponds and Swales to point the water runoff direction to protect the wetlands."

The long term deal is Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating will purchase the energy generated here for the next two decades.