6 Acres of Solar Energy to Help Glocester Farm Pay Bills
August 8, 2020
A new ground-mounted solar installation on a farm in Glocester, R.I., is being promoted by the developer as a model for land preservation and for sustaining a way of life.
White Oak Farm was established in 1909 as a dairy farm. Through five generations of ownership by the Phillips family, the property transitioned to an apple orchard and now grows and sells peaches, apples, vegetables, sweet corn, and pumpkins.
A 1.8-megawatt solar array will be the farm’s latest revenue stream. The system is expected to produce electricity by the end of the year.
Six acres of the 78-acre farm will be set aside for the solar system. The developer, North Kingstown-based Green Development LLC, has already begun preparing the site and has promised minimal tree clearing to accommodate 5,122 solar panels. According to plans filed with the state, 6.9 acres of forested land will be cleared.
The Environmental Protect Agency’s greenhouse gases equivalencies calculator finds that the emissions reductions of the farm’s solar array is equivalent to the carbon sequestered by 2,497 acres of forest or the carbon dioxide emissions from 254 homes annually.
“That synergy between solar power and our crops was something that was very important to us,” Roger Phillips said.
Selling electricity from the solar array will help keep the farm in business, he said.
“This project brings a predictable revenue stream to an industry that can be very unpredictable,” Phillips said. “It also allows the land to provide something more than vegetables while still harnessing the benefits of the sun.”
The electricity generated from the project will be bought through the state’s net-metering program.
The project is also expected to deliver $9,000 in annual tax revenue to the town.
Rhode Island offers numerous financial incentives for building solar arrays on farmland, such as up to $75,000 from the state Renewable Energy Fund. The Rhode Island Agricultural Energy Program offers up to $20,000, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture offers up to $500,000.