Pittsfield Gives OK to Ponterril Solar Project

May 18, 2012

Pittsfield’s Zoning Board of Appeals gave unanimous approval to a 22 acre solar array on the former YMCA Camp at Ponterril. The $20 million project would sit on the 77-acre site overlooking Pontoosuc Lake, and generate three megawatts of electricity. The electricity would then be sold to the Western Massachusetts Electric Company.

Deanna Ruffer, Pittsfield’s Community Development Director, said that the project owned by Connecticut-based CTC electric, will be welcome as the city’s fourth solar project.

The YMCA has been trying to develop the Ponterril site for the past few years. In 2010, a 93-unit housing project was approved for the location, but no developer was secured.

Eleanor Tillinghast of Green Berkshires said that she couldn’t speak to the specifics of the Ponterril project, but warned that nearby residents should be cautious about any large scale solar projects near residential areas.

Deanna Ruffer has said that the CTC Electric project will include a 50 foot buffer area surrounding the array, and will plant trees to hide the project from view. She praised the developers for their working relationship with area residents.

A representative for CTC Electric could not return a call to WAMC in time for broadcast.

In Pownal, Vermont, near the Massachusetts border, development is set to begin on a 2.2 megawatt solar installation by Spanish company Gestamp Solar. The 15 acre project would occupy an area on the 144 acre former Green Mountain Race Track.

Both projects could being construction later this year, but concrete timelines have not been set.

Recently, WalMart Stores announced that they would begin installing solar panels on their store locations throughout Massachusetts. WalMart will also continue installing solar panels on stores in other states, such as California.