Solar energy farms sprout up in eastern Connecticut

New London

STONINGTON, Conn. (WTNH)– Take a drive along Route 12 in Groton or Route 32 in Franklin and you see acres and acres of solar panel arrays. So-called solar energy farms are sprouting up in eastern Connecticut.

“The solar farms are offering three or four times per acre what we’re currently paying for use of that land upwards of $1,200 to $1,800 an acre annually,” Franklin First Selectman Charles Grant recently told News 8.

He is also a farmer and believes solar farms are taking over tillable soil but they are also being put on land which might otherwise remain vacant.

“We’re only about a hundred yards from the highway,” said Travis Robinson of Stonington. “You can’t even hear it because we’re up on a hill. So no changes in scenery for any of the commuters coming by.”

Robinson’s family owns the farmland off of Taugwonk Spur Road in Stonington where Greenskies Renewable Energy of Middletown is petitioning to build a 5 megawatt solar energy facility with more than 16-thousand photovoltaic panels.

If approved it could be built on sixteen and a half acres which include a wooded area along with land now used for haying. The Robinsons have plenty of other land on their property they can also use for that.

Leasing some of their land could help the farming family diversify. Haying season which dominates the summer is about to end.

“Again ready to go into the logging season and the solar farm coming in is just going to be another thing to add onto our list of things we’re involved with,” said Robinson.

The Robinsons have more than 80 acres of land north of I-95.

“With enough land like this we definitely do some good by adding more solar farm and going more to the green technology,” said Robinson.

Possibly a cash crop of the future for farmers and other landowners with acres to spare. 

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