HARWICH — The planning board this past week approved a site plan review special permit to establish a large scale photovoltaic array at the Cranberry Valley Golf Course.
There will actually be two locations where the arrays will be located. The larger one with 648 panels will be placed on a 1.26-acre parcel just north of the new cart barn running toward the municipal course’s maintenance facility. The other, containing 76 panels, will be a roof-mounted system on the new cart barn. The arrays are expected to generate 284 kilowatts of power annually.
This is the second project the town has entered into with the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative, which serves as a representative for the town in developing solar facilities. The town and CVEC worked together in establishing the 15-acre array at the former town landfill site, which last year provided the town with $440,000 in revenues through a lease agreement.
Last May the town approved several more locations where photovoltaic arrays could be located. The municipal golf course was a logical site, especially with the construction of a new cart barn and plans to switch from gas to electric-powered golf carts.
CVEC put together a package of projects and Greenskies Renewable Energy was the successful bidder. The company will be the owner and operator of the solar array system under a lease agreement with the town. The town will receive compensation based on the power generated from the array.
Bradley J. Parsons, P.E. of All Points Technology Corporation, and Liz Argo, CVEC manager, made the presentation to the planning board last week. Parsons said there will be limited clearing and grading necessary for the ground-mount system. The system will be located outside the 100-foot buffer zone of a nearby vernal pool, but will be inside the buffer zone to the course’s irrigation pond. There will be no additional stormwater infrastructure required.
Disturbed areas will also be planted with natural wildflower seed, Parsons said. He added the course supervisors are striving to become an Audubon-certified course and the plantings will assist in the effort. The ground array will have a six-foot fence surrounding it.
Parsons walked board members through power grid improvements for the course and explained there will be disconnection switches in place. Greenskies will have a 24-hour monitoring system that can track every panel. Should there be problems, a technician will be dispatched.
Noting the proximity of the ground mounted system to the 14th fairway, Planning board member Allan Peterson asked how the solar panels would hold up against errant golf balls.
Argo said the panels are tested, but if hit hard enough they can be broken. They sometimes continue to charge, but usually are replaced for aesthetic purposes, she said.
Board member Arthur Rouse wanted to know if the cart barn would need additional fortification to hold the solar array. Town Planner Charleen Greenhalgh said the cart barn roof was constructed to hold an array.
Board member Craig Chadwick wanted to know if the array on the roof would take care of all the electric needs of the carts. To some degree, Argo responded, depending upon the time of year. But she added Eversource will continue to provide power to the facilities. She explained the meter spins both ways: when the system is charging the meter spins backward, and when Eversource is providing power it spins forward. If there is excess power generated, it will be reflected in the electric bill, she said.
Board member David Harris wanted to know the duration of the construction project and whether there would be site issues. Parsons said he did not image they would be taking up parking spaces during the golf season. He estimated it would take three to four months to construct the solar arrays, adding any issues can be mitigated by off-site storage of modules.
Planning board members then issued the special permit for the project.