Sandwich City Council hears plans for an approximate 35-acre solar farm

Representatives of Turning Point Energy presented plans to the Sandwich City Council for an approximate 35 acre solar farm and community solar program at a July 18 Committee of the Whole meeting.

The solar farm would be developed at 15999 Pratt Rd., north of the Sandwich Fair grounds.

Under the firm’s proposed community solar program, residents would be able to subscribe to obtain their electricity at a discounted rate.

TPR Development Manager Alex Mendelson and Michelle Carpenter, associate vice president of development, presented their proposal to the council.

Carpenter said the project is in the pre-development stage and they are hopeful of securing the city’s approval and breaking ground on the project next year.

Alderman Bill Fritsch asked if there would be a limit to the number of subscribers who could participate and if they were planning to purchase or lease the land.

Carpenter said she believed the limit would be between 1,000 to 1,200 households and they currently have a signed lease option agreement in place with the landowner. 2020 US Census data showed there to be 2,548 households in Sandwich.

Alderman Fred Kreinbrink asked about how a community solar program would work for residents.

Carpenter said the subscription would be free, and subscribers would see a credit on their electric bills for a portion of their energy at a lower rate. Carpenter said depending on a household’s energy usage, the savings is roughly 5% to 15% of their bill.

Alderman Bill Littlebrant raised questions as to who would be responsible for cleaning the solar panels.

Mendelson said cleaning would be the responsibility of the owner of the field, and the panels would be monitored remotely and cleaned as necessary.

Alderman Rich Robinson said he believes the planned lot is part of Deer Path Woods, currently zoned as planned urban development (PUD) land. City Attorney Cassandra Gottschalk said if there is already a PUD in place, the process would be more difficult.

“That would be the only concern,” Robinson said. “Because there might be other requirements for that property.”

Mendelson said that upon city approval, they would begin working with the city’s planning department to rezone the land for their uses. Carpenter added that TPE has developed under PUDs in other communities, and they will complete the necessary rezoning process.

“This is obscure, this is kind of hidden, this is remote, and it serves a purpose, so I kind of like this,” Kreinbrink said.

Author: systems