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Company pulls the plug on large-scale solar project planned for Fitzwilliam

A photo in profile of a town hall meeting with a chandelier at the top. Presenters sit at a long table at the front of the room, and participants sit at long tables to the left of the image.
Mia Summerson
/
The Keene Sentinel
Residents gathered at Fitzwilliam Town Hall to learn more about the proposed Chinook Solar Project in February 2020. Members of the N.H. Site Evaluation Committee were in the front of the room, at right, and NextEra Energy Resources representatives and consultants were seated by the wall with the windows.

FITZWILLIAM — Plans for one of the largest solar arrays in the state are no longer moving forward, according to the company that was overseeing the project.

The Chinook Solar Project called for installing more than 100,000 solar panels on a swath of land between Route 12 and Fullam Hill Road. The 30-megawatt facility was expected to generate enough energy to annually power about 7,000 homes.

However, Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Inc., decided it is “not economically feasible” to move forward with the project at this time, company spokesperson Matt Eissey said in an email to The Sentinel. The costs of connecting the project to the larger power grid, along with other factors, were prohibitive, he said. When asked what those other factors include, he responded that since Chinook Solar received its permits, “economic forces have changed in such a way that ... no longer make the project feasible.”

Power companies in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island had signed agreements to purchase power from the Chinook Solar Project.

Fitzwilliam Town Administrator Debbie Favreau said she had been reaching out to her contact at the company for months to learn the status of the project, but did not receive responses.

Chinook Solar was the first solar project large enough to require approval from the N.H. Site Evaluation Committee. As part of that process, NextEra needed to prove its financial and technical ability to run the facility. The committee approved the project in December 2020.

The project had been in the works since at least 2019, when NextEra held its first public forum for the project.

Eissey said the company ceased efforts for the project late last year. In October, the company was working out the logistics of the project’s interconnection agreement and couldn’t break ground until the agreement was finalized, a NextEra spokesperson said at the time.

The company is continuing to work on its Chariot Solar Project in Hinsdale, according to Eissey. The 50-megawatt facility will be the largest in the state, the company has said.

These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborativenh.org. 

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