Energy

6 Acres of Solar Energy to Help Glocester Farm Pay Bills

Some 5,100 ground-mounted solar panels are expected to produce electricity by the end of this year. (Green Development LLC)

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.

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  1. Why can’t the solar panels be installed on existing commercial rooftops rather than clear cutting valuable forest. Think of what is happening in the Amazon and subsequently, the Earth.

  2. When the farms go out of business there will be plenty of rooftops for your panels then. This is a FABULOUS project and an amazing way to keep farms sustainable. "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." Taken from this article. To me this is as tell tale as anything. If ever there was an example of a great solar project that should be supported, this is it!

  3. I’m interested to see more projects like this. Agree/disagree, we need more innovative ways to support our energy supply for future generations. As a grandmother, I especially think about the problems my grandkids will face.

  4. I hope Biden and his administration make it a point for green energy developers to work alongside farms and form mutually beneficial partnerships.

  5. I’m all for the protection of farm land, but if it’s a matter of a independent farm going under and being forced to sell their land versus leasing a portion of their land to a sustainable energy company, it’s a no brainer to me – keep the farm alive and help provide a valuable service while mitigating pollution.

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