The Brewer planning board unanimously approved a proposed 12-acre solar array off Arista Drive behind Lowe’s Home Improvement on Monday.
The fenced-in site will be connected to Arista Drive by a gravel access road and produce two megawatts of power, according to the application. Arista Drive, off of Wilson Street, serves as the entrance to the Lowe’s Home Improvement store and is in an area of the city dominated by retail developments.
Only one resident spoke at the public hearing for the project before the vote to ask questions of the developer, Andrew Kellar, founder of New Hampshire-based NH Solar Garden. No residents voiced opinions about the proposed array.
The board’s approval came with a handful of conditions, to which Kellar agreed. They require that Kellar maintain the access road year-round for emergency vehicles and that he use wildlife-permeable fencing to contain the site instead of chain link.
Exactly who will be able to buy the power generated by the project hasn’t been decided, but other NH Solar Garden developments offer the power to a mix of residential and commercial utility customers, Kellar said.
With the project approved, the next step for Kellar’s company is to buy the land. He said he hopes to begin construction early next year, and that the project will take about three to four months to build, weather permitting.
Kellar said the company is working with the Department of Environmental Protection before work can begin to ensure the site doesn’t contain vernal pools.
This is the fifth solar project the city has approved since December 2020, according to the Brewer planning department. Before Kellar’s project, Brewer approved another two-megawatt project, proposed by Virginia-based Hexagon Energy, off Eastern Ave in December 2021.