WWCO Solar Project
“Solar Star Tranquility LLC”
Wannacomet Water Company; Wyer’s Valley - 1 Milestone Rd.
The site is controlled by the Wannacomet Water Company, an enterprise account of the Town of Nantucket. The Town-owned site is the primary location of Wannacomet Water Company operations, including the Wannacomet Water Company office, two pumping stations and three gravel packed production wells. It is the Water Company’s goal to protect existing groundwater quality and operate water supply assets, while supporting a co-located solar project to offset 100% of the Company’s electricity costs.
The Wannacomet Water Company’s “Wyer’s Valley” property has been identified as the most viable location to host a public solar farm on the island. Other sites, such as the Nantucket Memorial Airport and Madaket landfill, have been reviewed in detail with each having significant challenges that prohibit the development of clean energy generating facilities in the foreseeable future.
- At the 2011 Annual Town meeting, the motion pursuant to Annual Town Meeting Article 97: “Long-term Lease Authorization: Wannacomet” was unanimously adopted by voice vote. This article authorizes the Nantucket Water Commission to enter into a lease of the Wyers Valley property and to execute a power purchase agreement for terms up to 30 years. Public support for municipal solar projects was reaffirmed in 2016 with the unanimous approval of Annual Town Meeting Article 90 “Lease of Town Land for Renewable Energy Projects and Article 91 “PILOT Agreements for Renewable Energy Facilities.”
- On August 9, 2019, the Town of Nantucket issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the development of municipal solar projects at a variety of Town facilities and properties, including: the Surfside Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), Nantucket Memorial Airport, DPW, Public Schools, Public Safety Facility, and Wannacomet Water Company properties.
- On January 31, 2020, TotalEnergies Renewables USA (formerly SunPower) was selected as the winning bidder by an inter-department municipal evaluation committee to develop two municipal projects: a small (grant-funded) roof-mounted system at the Surfside WWTP and a larger ground-mounted array at the Wannacomet Water Company property, located at 1 Milestone Road.
- In December, 2020, TotalEnergies and the Town executed agreements to construct the project at 1 Milestone Road.
- Both solar projects will improve local grid reliability and resiliency, reduce the island’s dependance on imported power from the mainland including from “dirty” power plants located in disadvantaged communities, and will help to mitigate the need for a costly third-undersea-transmission cable by significantly reducing the island’s summer peak load. Additionally, the project will help contribute to the Town’s “Beat the Peak!” initiative.
- Once fully operational the proposed system at 1 Milestone Road is expected to provide more than $277,000 in Annual Revenue to the Town and will be capable of fully offsetting all electricity expenses at the Wannacomet Water Company. Over the 25-year contract term, the usable savings for the Town is $6.8 million dollars.
- Over the solar project’s 25-year lifetime, it is expected to produce 122 million kWh in clean energy and will offset 86,411 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, helping to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change and elevated sea levels on the island.
- In order to reduce the visual impacts of the project, TotalEnergies has worked closely with the Wannacomet Water Company, HDC and nearby residents to increase the perimeter setbacks to 100ft along Milestone Road, and 65ft along the bike path and Old South Road, with an 85ft and 50ft natural vegetative buffer respectively, to remain and visually screen the project from the public right of way. The HDC approved the project on November 30, 2020, on the condition of a future planting and screening plan.
- TotalEnergies plans to establish a pollinator habitat, utilizing native Nantucket plant species, within the fenced areas when stabilizing top soils for the purpose of promoting local apiary health.
- In February 2021, TotalEnergies began conversations with the NHESP, the WWC, the Nantucket Land Bank, the DCR, and the Town of Nantucket to discuss the project history, funding plans, alternative site locations due to the ‘Take’ of rare species and permitting.
Permitting to Date:
- Massachusetts Natural Heritage Program - Conservation and Management Permit
The Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) inventories two types of significant wildlife habitats. These habitats include “Priority Habitats” of rare species and “Estimated Habitats” of rare wetlands and wildlife. The location of the proposed development in relation to NHESP priority habitats and estimated habitats was reviewed using the MassGIS OLIVER online mapping tools and confirmed via correspondence with NHESP. The project site is located within mapped Priority Habitats of rare species. The project is currently undertaking review with NHESP including preparation of a Conservation Management Plan for use of the Site for the solar array and development of a mitigation plan.
- Massachusetts Environmental Protection Act (MEPA)
The project requires the submission of an ENF and EIR pursuant to 301 CMR 11.06(7)(b) of the MEPA regulations because it is located within one mile of one or more EJ populations, requires a State Agency Action, and exceeds an ENF threshold.
TotalEnergies filed an Environmental Notification Form (ENF) with the MEPA Office on April 17, 2023 (EEA No. 16693)
A Remote Consultation Session was held on May 9, 2023, to receive advice and comments from agencies, officials, and citizens regarding which environmental issues, if any, are significant for this project. Opinions as to the extent and significance of possible environmental impact will be welcome.
An Environmental Justice In-Person Information Session will be held on Thursday, May 25th at 131 Pleasant Street from 5:00 – 7:00 PM. All are welcome.
- Interpretation services in Spanish will be provided upon request; requests should be made to firstname.lastname@example.org by May 23rd.
- Notifications (including translated) of this meeting will be posed in the Inquirer and Mirror newspaper prior to the meeting date.
Comments on the project will be welcome in writing prior to May 16, 2023. A Certificate on the EENF will be issued on May 26, 2023. Deadlines are subject to change. Please check the Environmental Monitor for up-to-date comment period deadlines.
- Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection – Public Water Supply (PWS) Certification under Guideline BRP 2011-1
The Project is located in a Zone I area which is the primary protection area around a small public water system (PWS). In accordance, Guideline BRP 2011-1 requires the filing with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) for approval for wind and solar energy projects on lands owned or controlled held by public water systems for drinking water purposes. Additionally, 310 CMR 22.21(1) and 22.21(3)(b) requires activities in the Zone I to be limited to those directly related to the provision of public drinking water or that will have no significant adverse impact on water quality. TotalEnergies plans to work with the Wannacomet Water Company, the owner of the PWS, to prepare the information required for the submittal.
- Public Notice for ENF Filing – Inquirer and Mirror, April 13, 2023
- Submittal of the ENF – Environmental Monitor, April 17, 2023
- Public Notice for Environmental Justice In-Person Information Session – Inquirer and Mirror, May 11, 2023
- Town lays out plan for solar farm on water-company property - Inquirer and Mirror, January 28, 2021
- Solar farm going up at water company - Inquirer and Mirror, December 30, 2020
- Solar array approved for Wannacomet Water Company - Inquirer and Mirror, December 17, 2020
- Solar Project Update to Nantucket Select Board – December 14, 2022 (PDF)
- Nantucket Module Testing Results - August 24, 2021 (PDF)
- Presentation at Nantucket Economic & Development Planning Commission - March 15, 2021 (PDF)
- Town of Nantucket Municipal Solar Procurement Overview - 12/16/2020 Presentation (PDF)
- WWCO Solar Project Public Meeting - May 25, 2023 (PDF)