By Josh Lariscy, Blue Wave Solar
The rapid expansion of community solar continues to be both the most exciting, and at times, most complex form of solar development happening today. The advent of community solar in states like Massachusetts is a critical component in the fight against climate change; however, the location and impact of these projects often presents significant challenges for both the developer and the communities in which they are located. Although the smaller size of distributed generation projects allows for them to be sited closer to load and occupy land that would otherwise be undevelopable (e.g. landfills), this inherently can create challenges in integrating with a community.
When it comes to proposing a community solar project, every community is unique, both in the nature of the land itself and the character of the community and surrounding neighborhoods. At BlueWave Solar, when we look to develop a new project, we view the potential project site and development process through a multitude of angles: what are the concerns and preferences of the abutters, what types of developments surround the site, and what do the town or city’s existing bylaws tell us about their priorities and goals in regard to new developments.
Often, we find that answers to these questions are not always clear and require a more direct and conscious effort to listen to public comment, reach out to existing community groups, and understand the history of a particular piece of land. Sometimes the primary concern is how a project would affect the visual makeup of a neighborhood, while other times the priority becomes safety around stormwater runoff and management. It’s crucial for developers to maintain a flexible approach and open mindset when it comes to project design, even if that means additional costs, to fully incorporate and appreciate a community’s thoughts