In 2016, Deepwater Wind (DWW) was selected through a tri-state RFP process to construct Tobacco Valley Solar (TVS), a 26.4-megawatt solar photovoltaic electric generating facility in Simsbury, Connecticut. The approximately 300-acre parcel consisted primarily of agricultural fields that were historically used to grow tobacco and surrounded by residences. From the start, the project faced vocal opposition from many of the neighboring property owners as well as the Town due to the perceived negative environmental impacts of the project, despite the fact that once constructed it would provide one of the largest sources of clean, renewable energy in CT and generate significant tax revenue for the Town. Neighbors of the TVS project were concerned that construction of the solar array would mobilize potential contaminants in soil and degrade drinking water and they organized to block Siting Council approval of the project.
To help them evaluate the project impacts, navigate the regulatory approval process, and negotiate with the neighbors and Town, DWW retained GZA to conduct a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) of the project site and provide expert testimony at the Connecticut Siting Council (the regulatory authority providing approval for the project). GZA assisted DWW in negotiating a settlement by which DWW agreed, among other things, to perform pre- and post-construction testing of potable wells in the project area. Following the 2018 agreement, GZA conducted a pre- and post-construction potable well sampling program at nearby residences that included collecting drinking water samples from 37 homes for analysis of pesticides with the results indicating no significant changes from historical conditions. Point-of-entry water treatment systems were installed where testing indicated impacts were present.
Construction of the solar farm was completed in 2019 with positive feedback from the Town and neighboring residents. GZA was able to provide the flexibility, services and management skill required to help move this high-profile, challenging project forward to a projected on-time completion date.