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03/20/2023 08:13 AM

North Branford Solar Array Ribbon-Cutting Celebrates Clean Energy Gains

North Branford town leaders were joined by the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce (SCC) and representatives of Altus Power America Management (Stamford) for a March 16 ribbon-cutting at the new solar array “farm” on Forest Road. Left to right, Shoreline Chamber of Commerce director Dee Jacob; North Branford Councilwoman Rose Marie Angeloni; Town Manager Michael Downes, Altus Customer Relations Head Daniella Gray; Altus Managing Director Sean Rheuben; Mayor Jeffrey Macmillen, Economic Development co-chair Elisabeth Caplan, former North Branford Economic Development Coordinator Roger Salway, Altus Talent Management team member Olympia Bordelon. Pam Johnson/The Sound

North Branford

In a farm field that’s been converted to a sleek solar array, North Branford town leaders were joined by the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce (SCC) and representatives of Altus Power America Management (Stamford) for a March 16 ribbon-cutting celebrating the operation of this remarkable clean energy initiative.

The 10-acre, 6,000+ solar panel array at 127 Forest Road became operational in September on land developed by Citrine Power leased from property owner Michael DiLongo. It includes virtual net metering agreements with energy provider United Illuminating (UI) for a 25-year period.

Town Manager Michael Downes said the project illustrated the effective use of 10 acres of farmland, with benefits going to the farm, the landlord, the Town, and, ultimately, taxpayers.

“This is a great example of a private-public partnership,” said Downes. “It’s a really great arrangement. We’re thrilled to have Altus here and partner with them; and to kind of pave the way for these types of things, which, I think, are really forward-thinking.”

The array will produce about 3.2 million kilowatt hours of electric power per year, with that energy sold to the Town of North Branford at a significant discount. As a result, the town will save an estimated $10,000 or more per month for the next 25 years (a projected $90,000 to $120,000 annually). Energy from the array will power area town installations, including school buildings. The array also provides power to Page Farm (Maple Tree Farm) based on Totoket Road.

SCC director Dee Jacob said one of the things the Town of North Branford does really well is to partner with businesses.

“It’s one of the reasons North Branford’s not only a great place to live but a great place to do business in,” said Jacob.

North Branford leaders, Economic Development Commission (EDC) members, and many others credited former Economic Development Coordinator Roger Salway for initiating the project idea and bringing it to fruition for the town.

“We’re very proud to be able to work with the town on this project, and one of the champions of the project is Roger Salway,” Sean Rheuben, Altus managing director. “Together with the developer, Citrine Power, he dedicated a huge amount of time and effort to get this project to a state where Altus was able to bring the capital to build this project and to be a part of this community. We’re a large company in Stamford, and it’s always great to have a bigger presence in the state, and that’s a tribute to towns like North Branford.”

Salway, who now serves the Town of Derby as Economic Development Director, attended the ribbon-cutting event on March 16.

From the project’s boundary wall decisions to planting 76 compact-growth evergreen trees along fencing that screens the array while also providing enough ground clearance for small local fauna to navigate safely, Salway said the project took into consideration “listening to community input” on the way to moving it to “...a place where everybody felt comfortable.”

North Branford mayor Jeffrey Macmillen said it’s a development North Branford is excited to have on board.

“It’s going to help the townspeople in this particular area and cut down costs in what’s been an exceedingly expensive time for energy costs,” said Macmillen. “It’s exciting to bring this type of technology to our town and to have a field that’s able to utilize natural resources we have, to help better our town.”