Solar energy saves Somers farm

SOMERS, Conn. (WTNH) — How can “clean energy” help to save Connecticut’s family farms? That’s what a big project in northern Connecticut, a “solar farm” in the middle of an agricultural farm in Somers, is doing.

The farm is one of the largest solar power installations in Connecticut, about 50 acres of solar panels spread over about 90 acres of land at Pleasant View Farms. On average, it produces enough power for nearly 1,500 homes per year.

Governor Dannel Malloy toured the “Somers Solar Farm” on Friday to highlight an upcoming regional energy conference. This solar farm is on leased land that’s part of an 800-acre working agricultural farm that’s been in the same family for a century.

“A great example of a partnership between the state and the private sector, ‘Dominion,’ being the investor,” said Kevin Hennessy of Dominion, the company that owns the solar farm.

While the panels, which move with sun, maximize the amount of power that is sent to the grid, they are also a reliable cash crop for the farmer. 

“It’s been one of the best investments this farm has ever undertaken; it’s basically given us the capital to invest in our farm operation and bring it up to the point where my sons, currently who operate the farm, have had the ability to increase the acreage, increase the efficiency of the farm, being able to invest in new equipment and so forth in order to make this farm viable,” said Jeff Lipton, a third generation farmer of Pleasant View Farms.

So did leasing this land for solar save the farm?  

“I would say, yes,” Lipton answered.

This entire deal was facilitated by what’s called the Connecticut Green Bank. The nation’s first “Green Bank,” it leverages public and private money to help develop green energy, and in this case, helped to preserve a family farm.

On a very sunny day, there’s enough power coming from the panels to power 5,000 homes.

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