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Massive E. Lyme solar array under construction

8/30/2013
HBJ File Photo
HBJ File Photo
Greenskies Renewable Energy also is installing solar panels at Connecticut service areas anywhere it cansqueeze them in, including open space and on rooftops.
Construction of a five-megawatt solar installation on 43 acres in East Lyme has begun, the project developer Middletown-based Greenskies Renewable Energy announced on Friday.

The solar array is one of two the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection partnered with in December 2011 in order to build 10 megawatts of clean energy in Connecticut. The other, the Somers Solar Center, is not yet under construction.

A five-megawatt solar installation is enormous, and when complete, the East Lyme installation will more than double the current largest one in New England, a 2.2 megawatts array in Springfield, Mass. By comparison, most residential rooftop solar installations produce 100 kilowatts or less, and 1 megawatt equals 1,000 kilowatts.

The East Lyme installation will feature 16,000 solar panels and take up 35 acres of the Walnut Hill Road site, although Greenskies said it will not be visible to passers-by.

The electricity generated will be enough to power 14 percent of the 6,312 households in East Lyme. Electric utilities Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating will purchase in the energy in a 20-year power purchase agreement.

Greenskies said the project will take six months to build. Middletown-based Centerplan Cos. is handling the construction.