Solar Farm at Dubois Drive.

SB Hosts Most Solar Arrays in VT

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Thursday September 27, 2012

South Burlington is looking for more renewable opportunities, particularly solar energy, City Manager Sandy Miller addressed at the September 19 Steering Committee meeting.

The topic of renewable energy stemmed from the Council’s review of the four committees under Interim Zoning: Form Based Codes, Sustainable Agriculture/Food Security, Affordable Housing and Open Space. Mr. Miller summarized the Affordable Housing Committee’s work run by Councilor Sandy Dooley who was absent for the Wednesday meeting.

Affordable Housing has received help through the ECOS Project (Environment, Community, Opportunity, and Sustainability) which is run through the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission which contracted with the Vermont Housing Finance Agency to do development work regarding data, statistics, and other helpful demographics across the county, Miller said.

Miller, co-chair of the ECOS Project, announced that the city also sent in an application to the ECOS Project for a grant for $50,000 to assist with the development of the four Interim Zoning components in order to be a more sustainable community.

According to Miller, “We have the largest amount of solar arrays in any town in the state of Vermont. We are aggressively pursuing more of that.”

One new solar project under consideration of the Planning Commission is an installation on Hinesburg Road.  The Commission is questioning the location of this recently proposed solar farm. Concerns involve the project’s location in a Natural Resources Protected Area and using the little open space the city has left to work with in the SEQ. Commissioners were in favor of an alternative such as the use of solar roofs.

In order to advance South Burlington in becoming leaders in renewable energy, the city issued a request for qualifications from potential partners last spring to help jumpstart this goal; on July 20 the Energy Committee voted to recommend Encore Redevelopment, a Vermont-based project development company, to be a City Renewable Energy Partner. The Council approved this partnership last month.

Now, the city is planning on working with Encore Redevelopment to build a 240-plus array set up in Dorset Park in the next few weeks, Miller said. The company will assist in looking at all city properties “for their adaptability for solar energy and other carbon reducing activities.”

South Burlington is also finalizing plans with Green Mountain Power to re-lamp over 80 percent of the street lights to be LED lights which would effectively reduce consumption by 40 percent.

Thus, while committee members and Council will assess sculpting the city around Interim Zoning guidelines, integration of solar energy will be in the city’s plan.

SOURCE: Miranda Jonswold, Correspondent