The Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission is holding a public hearing tonight about the town installing a solar farm on Sympaug Road. The solar array would take up about 3.5 acres of a 17 acre property, in an industrial zone.
Bethel is working with a subsidiary of Ameresco, which would sell the power back to the town and First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker say that will lead to a small reduction in costs. The 948-kilowatt solar array, if approved, is expected to begin producing energy in July. The 2,916 panels could generate nearly 1 million kilowatts a year.
It's been a long road to get to the point of a public hearing locally. Knickerbocker says state law prohibited municipalities from partnering with a third party, but after lobbying efforts the law was changed. Municipalities also lobbied the state to lift a cap on the number of solar arrays built in Connecticut, which was pushed for by power companies.
The Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission amended town laws to allow solar farms in Industrial and Industrial Park zones.