Clifton Park approves solar array on Ashdown Road

Energy farm will cover 21 acres

The Clifton Park Planning Board approved plans Thursday for a large solar energy farm on Ashdown Road.

The board also heard proposals for two other solar energy farms, one on Grooms Road and one on Sugar Hill Road.

The approved project is by Borrego Solar Systems, which plans a 5.3-megawatt solar array that would cover approximately 21 acres of a nearly 90-acre parcel at 25 Ashdown Road.

The land is densely wooded, and the entire solar array will be surrounded by a buffer of trees, according to the approved plans. According to documents submitted to the town Planning Department, which first reviewed the project in May, the property is owned by Sheryl Rifenburg and Fred Kram of Troy.

Emilie Flanagan, project developer for Borrego Solar Systems, said the company has a 20-year lease agreement with the owners to build the farm. The property is largely unused, though there is a vacant duplex home on the property, she said.

Borrego also received permission from the Planning Board on Wednesday to subdivide the property into an 85-acre parcel for the solar array and its related infrastructure and a roughly 4-acre parcel around the home.

Project plans call for a 21-acre field of solar panels raised 9 feet off the ground, with the longest row of panels measuring 1,278 feet long —  42 feet shy of a quarter-mile.

Construction is expected to take six months. The panels would most likely be built out of sight of passersby, said Dean Smith, a civil engineer with Borregoat past meetings.

Each megawatt of generated electricity powers, on average, 100 typical homes, though solar energy is dependent on weather.

The solar facility would be surrounded by a 7-foot-tall fence and a gravel driveway would be built to access the facility. The fence would be locked at all times, Flanagan said. Borrego employees visit sites once or twice a year for panel maintenance, but the property would mostly be unmanned. 

Smith added that studies and tests have been conducted to confirm the project will not produce any glare hazards that could affect passing airplane pilots.

Construction costs for the Borrego project were not available. The array will remain on the site for at least 25 years.

Another proposed solar farm, also by Borrego, is a 9.2-megawatt array proposed for 753 Grooms Road. That facility will cover just over 33 acres and will also be surrounded by a fence.

The third proposed farm is 7-megawatt array targeted for Sugar Hill Road, as proposed by Solitude Solar. Borrego has a separate lease agreement with a local farm for its second project, as does Solitude Solar.

While the initial Borrego project eventually received unanimous approval by the Planning Board, Chairman Rocco Ferraro said the long approval process was due to it being the first solar farm the board had ever reviewed. 

“We have to do our due diligence because we’re setting a fairly significant precedent here,” Ferrarro said.


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