Solar Farm Growing on Route 17 in North Haven

Zip06 | Eric O'Connell
February 25, 2020

Motorists along Route 17 in North Haven have likely noticed a new development underway: a substantial solar-electric project that the developer said will help provide clean energy in the region.

The developer for the project, GRE GACRUX LLC, is working with Connecticut-based Greenskies, which will install and operate the system. The project is being built on two parcels located at 700 Middletown Avenue.

“It will generate clean, carbon-free power that utilities companies can use to meet clean energy mandates,” said Greenskies Vice-President of Marketing Jeff Hintzke.

GRE has a 20-year lease on the property that can be extended by 15 years.

Unlike other recent installation like North Haven’s solar farm atop a former landfill that feeds electricity to the town’s Water Pollution Control Facility, this is a private development.

“This is a project that runs power to the utilities companies themselves,” Hintzke said.

The project is estimated to provide 8,000,000 kilowatt-hours per year. An average household in Connected will use approximately 9,000 kilowatt-hours a year, so this project could produce power used by about 890 houses per year.

Hintzke said there have been “similar projects going in Connecticut for a number of years.” Hintzke said the goal is to have the solar power offset the reliance on “dirty energy,” which he said is typically natural gas in Connecticut.

Hintzke said that since the time the project was awarded, it had to undergo a lengthy design and permitting process, but now it is almost near completion.

“We are in the construction phase now and barring any significant weather delays we should have it done in about four to six weeks,” said Hintzke.

In the springtime, the company will do some planting to create a buffer of vegetation between the solar panels and the surrounding properties.

Hintzke stressed that Greenskies is a local company based in Middletown and is a familiar presence in many municipalities around the state. He said the company worked to keep town leaders in the loop, and to be a good neighbor. As part of the reviewing process, Hintzke said the company underwent wildlife and environmental reviews to make sure the project had minimal impacts.

Hintzke said there is still some testing to be done once the construction phase is over, but he doesn’t anticipate it will take long.

“It’s almost as easy as flipping a switch,” he said.