LETTERS

Solar project has undergone extensive review

Posted 3/24/21

To the Editor: I am the attorney for Revity Energy, the solar developer of the Natick Avenue solar project that is proceeding through the approval process with the city of Cranston. I normally avoid the back and forth of public comments in various

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LETTERS

Solar project has undergone extensive review

Posted

To the Editor:

I am the attorney for Revity Energy, the solar developer of the Natick Avenue solar project that is proceeding through the approval process with the city of Cranston. I normally avoid the back and forth of public comments in various mediums, but last week’s edition with two letters to the editor compels me to write to set the facts straight and clear up some misinformation.

I respect the right of neighbors and the public to voice concerns and opinions in public hearings and other forums. After more than 30 years of practicing land use and zoning law, I have heard many claims and arguments made by people that are just not based in the truth or reality. I usually let them go and chalk them up to people’s emotions and self-interests in a development or issue.

Last week’s letter by Douglas Doe warrants correction for its off-base claims and erroneous information. When he speaks he should share the real facts with public officials and neighbors and not make reckless claims that are just not founded in the truth. Mr. Doe’s rants about the reconstruction of Natick, Wilbur, Conley, Hope, Pippin Orchard and Laten Knight roads for the Revity solar project are flat-out wrong. His premise that National Grid’s private contractors will “snarl traffic along the main commuting route in western Cranston” is blatantly off target.

I and others, including National Grid representatives, have discussed the interconnection route for the solar project in numerous forums including the City Planning Commission, Development Plan Review Committee, Conservation Commission and the City Council Public Works Committee. The plan has been filed with the Department of Environmental Management and is well known by the Public Works Department and Planning staff.

For the record, the interconnection route designed and determined by National Grid, in their discretion, involves a path that leads north on Natick Avenue from the proposed site owned by Ronald Rossi and ends at the interconnection of Wilbur and Conley avenues. The route does not run rampant around western Cranston as some have suggested. National Grid has requested permission of the city to install one new pole and some support or so-called stub poles on Natick Avenue. Other than some other equipment being added to existing poles near the intersection of Wilbur Avenue and one pole near Olney Arnold Road, there just is not any more impact in the area.

Yes, it will involve the replacement of existing poles on Natick Avenue to accommodate the service for the solar farm. However, the claims of extensive tree removal are also false. National Grid forestry personnel will consult and coordinate with the city arborist, but the replacement poles should not dramatically impact the treescape. I invite the public to drive south on Natick Avenue from Wilbur Avenue. Look at the existing pole network. There is already clearance around the poles and there should be little impact on the existing conditions with the replacement poles.

When done the neighbors along the route will have a new upgraded electrical infrastructure that will provide for more reliable service for their electric needs. The replacement poles are planned to be moved as far off the right of way as possible to provide enhanced traffic safety and each street light will be reattached to the replacement pole. All electrical service upgrades will be paid for by Revity Energy.

Yes, there will be a period of construction under the careful eye of National Grid safety crews and local police. It is anticipated that neighborhood access and traffic will be maintained throughout the project.

I would like to finally address a few other issues raised by the other letter last week. First, the statistical analysis compiled by a local professor is nothing more than a bunch of numbers put in a computer to achieve his desired premise that the sale of houses near solar farms are impacted negatively. The professor acknowledges that his study did not consider the positive impact of screening and buffering near surrounding homes. Nor does the professor’s study distinguish between what projects have screening or buffering attributes, the intensity of the screening and landscaping if provided for a specific solar project and the resulting impact.

The Natick Avenue solar project includes a landscape and buffering plan of historic proportions. The developer went through an extensive review and modifications to its landscape plans and participated in a never used advisory committee process made up of various stakeholders including two neighborhood representatives to develop an enhanced and detailed landscape screening around the solar farm over several months and three lengthy meetings. Vital to that process was a peer review landscape architect hired by the Planning Commission, at the developer’s expense, to independently review and advise on the buffering plan and approach. The final landscape plan, while costing the developer hundreds of thousands of dollars, is a sound one and protects abutting neighbors.

One final word on blasting. Revity Energy has committed to using mechanical means to address any ledge outcroppings if possible. An experienced blaster would be engaged as a last resort but some limited blasting will likely occur. Proper permits from the State Fire Marshal and insurance protections will be in place if blasting occurs. The developer’s engineers have met with the company that oversees the Tennessee Gas Pipeline and all appropriate procedures will be in place if any blasting comes close to the pipeline jurisdiction.

In summary, my client stands ready to continue to answer questions and provide as much information as possible. Everyone is entitled to truthful answers and the fair and proper dissemination of information from all sources.

Robert D. Murray, Esq.

Cranston

solar, letter

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