160-acre solar farm gets final nod in North Smithfield

NORTH SMITHFIELD – A 160-acre solar farm has received final approval in North Smithfield, according to renewable energy developer Green Development LLC.

The 48.5-megawatt solar farm is poised to be the largest in Rhode Island, the company said. The electricity from the project is expected would be enough to more than 7,700 homes for one year. The site is expected to be operational by the end of 2021.

The project will be located north of Iron Mine Hill Road and east of the Providence Pike on multiple parcels.

The plans had drawn some opposition from nearby residents and others who expressed concerns about the solar farms built on largely undeveloped woodland.

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The company said it had entered into an agreement with the town to pay North Smithfield $5,376,000 over 20 years. The parties also agreed that Green Development will pay the town an additional $287,500, or pay for construction services to improve the concession stand and restroom facilities at the Paul Joyce Athletic Fields.

“We are very pleased that we were able to work with North Smithfield to get this project off of the ground. It will truly benefit the town through financial incentives, put people to work and help Rhode Island meet its renewable energy goals and improve the environment,” said Mark DePasquale, CEO of Green Development.

The company noted that it will also implement a long-term wildlife management plan and will operate the site as a pollinator habitat.

Energy from the project will be sent directly to National Grid of Rhode Island.