Howland Development Group, the organization proposing to build a 4-megawatt ground-mounted solar energy facility on a portion of the 65 acre parcel of land that it owns at the end of Snake Pond Road in Forestdale is one step closer to beginning the work on that project.
“We’re hoping to start installing the panels in the early spring and have construction completed by the beginning of July,” William A. Yetman, an officer with the development group said.
On Tuesday night, attorney Jonathan D. Fitch went before the Sandwich Planning Board asking the members to make a formal referral to the Cape Cod Commission to review the project.
The request was a matter of formality and the members unanimously agreed.
Now referred to as Greenwood Meadows, the project calls for a ground-mounted solar facility consisting of 18,000 solar panels covering 17 acres of land, which would make it the largest solar facility in the state.
The entire facility will be surrounded by fencing.
In June, the board of selectmen voted unanimously to sign a Purchase Power Agreement with Howland. According to the terms of the 10-year agreement, the town would be able to purchase electricity at a reduced rate, which is expected to translate into $130,000 a year in utility savings for the town.
Over a period of 10 years, this move could save the town $1.3 million in electricity costs.
This solar facility project is different than a proposal that Howland had pitched to the zoning board just one year ago.
Although the development group still plans to build 27 homes, seven of which would be sold as affordable, on the 40 acres of land that is adjacent to the solar array, Mr. Yetman said his company will not move forward on that part of the project until market conditions improve.
Mr. Yetman said the solar array project has already been reviewed and approved by the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program, which is a part of the state’s Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.
With the project now in the hands of the Cape Cod Commission, he is hoping that the regulatory agency will be able to review the proposal and hold a public hearing on it some time in December. Once the commission gives its okay on the project, it will be brought before the town’s Planning Board for final approval.
“Everything has been moving along slow as molasses, but everything appears to be positive,” Mr. Fitch told the planning board members on Tuesday night.