Encourages calls to Siting Council against Connecticut Solar
To the Editor:
William LaMontagne, who wrote a letter to the editor published in last week’s Spectrum, is a partner in Commercial Services Realty.
Mr. LaMontagne is proposing to buy 163 acres on Candlewood Mountain from Wells Fargo and lease it to Ameresco/ Candlewood Solar LLC for $9 million over a 20-year lease. He and his partner have a lot to lose if the Candlewood Solar project gets rejected.
Mr. LaMontagne cannot change the size of Candlewood Solar, which has already petitioned the Connecticut Siting Council (Petition 1312) for 163 acres.
He is confusing Candlewood Solar with Commercial Services Realty’s other ambitions. Their intent is to build an “energy park” on the adjacent parcel, for a total development of 309 acres on Candlewood Mountain. This has no relevance without a clear plan.
He states that just a few decades ago this area was open pasture. Expert foresters say the 72 acres of clearcut is a mature high-canopied forest, part of a 450-acre core forest, which once impacted will not recover to its current vegetated form and structure.
Mr. LaMontagne is correct in saying the 163-acre plot is zoned for Major Planned Residential Design (MPRDD). Dunham Farms was rejected by New Milford for being a bad plan. Bad plans are bad plans.
Mr. LaMontagne states that over 200 acres of his energy park will remain forested. Why would we believe him? But again — not currently relevant.
Candlewood Solar is not an isolated location completely hidden from public view. The View Shed Analysis on the Facebook page for Rescue Candlewood Mountain clearly shows it is visible from New Milford and Sherman.
What does Mr. LaMontagne mean when he says no additional energy projects will be developed within this zone? Candlewood Solar has already stated that this is Phase 1 of a bigger project.
According to the PILOT agreement, Candlewood Solar is only paying $2,747,979 in taxes over 20 years to the town of New Milford. Without this tax break, personal property taxes with just 70 acres developed would have been $6,147,483. That’s a 55 percent tax break when they can certainly afford to pay full taxes.
Mr. LaMontagne states that no town services are required. What happens in an unmanned, gated and locked power plant if it is struck by lightning? You may not need schools, but you will need police and firefighters.
Mr. LaMontagne says local contractors will be hired to prepare the site.
Candlewood Solar has said in the PILOT agreement that they agree to make commercially reasonable efforts to give preference to local contractors. They will not put a number of local hires on record.
Mr. LaMontagne says that when the project concludes its useful life, every panel will be removed and the site will be reclaimed as forest and pasture. He must know that Candlewood Solar has no decommissioning plan on record and won’t for almost 20 years.
The power generated by this project will flow into the grid….and to Massachusetts utilities that have purchased the power. New Milford residents will not see lower electric utility bills.
The FAA has determined that the solar array will not pose a hazard to pilots. We are in the process of reviewing this dangerous situation with them. Are they taking in to account the tilt of the panels and the acrobatic pilots that do not follow a straight line pattern?
While the solar plant might go away in 20 years, what other monstrosity will they bring?
Candlewood Solar is petitioning for No Certificate of Environmental Compatability and Public Need.
Rescue Candlewood Mountain says deny this petition.
Email Melanie Bachman at the Connecticut Siting Council at firstname.lastname@example.org and say “no.”