BERLIN — The local development company behind plans to construct a major convenience store and state-sanctioned welcome center on Paine Turnpike North is now seeking state approval for a 500-kilowatt solar facility on Airport Road.
The two projects might be miles apart, but they aren’t completely unrelated. Documents that Superior Development LLC recently filed with the state Public Service Board suggest the company plans to use credit for power generated by the proposed solar farm to offset electrical costs on a campus where it hopes to build an expanded version of Maplewood Convenience Store.
Located just off Interstate 89 at Exit 7, the campus is already home to a much smaller convenience store, a Comfort Inn and an Applebee’s restaurant. Through the state’s net metering program, Superior Development has proposed applying credit for all of the power from the proposed solar facility toward the electric bills for those and other local businesses it owns.
According to an overview of the project, the solar farm would generate roughly 800 megawatts of electricity a year, which amounts to about 80 percent of the electric load for the Comfort Inn and its associated facilities.
The solar facility, which would include more than 2,200 solar panels on 62 arrays, would be just up and across the road from E.F. Knapp State Airport. Though visible from the sky, the dark blue glass panels would be treated with an anti-reflective coating, significantly reducing their reflectivity in an area frequented by aircraft, according to the proposal.
Plans call for construction of the solar farm on 3 acres of a 17-acre parcel Superior Development owns on Airport Road just beyond Scott Hill Road.
Formerly farmland, the property is still mowed for hay and is across Airport Road from a working farm.
Superior Development owns the parcel to the west of the project location, and one of the company’s principals, Wayne Lamberton, would be its nearest neighbor.
The project was designed to avoid a wetland on the property, which has been identified as a potential habitat for the upland sandpiper — a Vermont endangered bird species that has been documented in the area. Though none of the birds was spotted during field surveys, Superior Development has indicated it would seasonally limit mowing in order to avoid any potential impacts during the nesting season.
The pre-application materials that were filed with the Public Service Board last week are part of Superior Development’s attempt to obtain a certificate of public good.
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