ROCKINGHAM — The town of Rockingham has scrapped plans to build a 500-kilowatt facility on a gravel pit on town-owned land because the state-issued land-use permit for the property had lapsed, officials said.
Town Manager Willis Stearns said the plans for the five-acre property off Route 103 were put on hold indefinitely because the town couldn’t apply for an extension of the Act 250 land-use permit if there were plans to alter the use of the pit with a solar construction project.
“And so to not hold up that Act 250 process, we pulled the whole idea of solar panels because we had no commitments made to be able to say definitively ... this is the product that will be there,” Stearns told the Eagle-Times of Claremont, N.H.
Any solar project at the gravel pit would have assumed about 30 percent of the total property for at least two decades, limiting any future industrial or large-scale excavation operations.
Last December, Rockingham officials began soliciting blueprints from local solar companies to explore the possibility of buying into a sun-powered network that could result in major savings on the town’s $200,000 annual electric bill.
“It’s not high enough on the priorities list now,” Stearns said. “Will it surface again? Absolutely it will ... the solar process to me makes a lot of sense when you have one large consumption area, which is the wastewater treatment plant, that can benefit from this.”
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