Bank Street solar project remains on track for spring completion

Bank Street solar project remains on track for spring completion


HOPKINTON — The supports are up and soon the hundreds of solar panels sitting in large cardboard boxes will be installed at Hopkinton’s first solar generating station. The site at 45 Bank St. is owned by local developer Stano Trombino, who stopped by Thursday to check on the progress of the project.

The 500-kilowatt solar array will generate 625,000 watts of power per year, enough electricity to power 100 homes. It will occupy 3 acres of the 8-acre parcel. The project is expected to be completed in eight weeks, and Trombino has a purchase agreement in place with National Grid.

“We’re about four days away from putting the cells on. Those are the solar panels,” he said. “There’s 1,492.”

Construction began last October, and the supports, or poles, began going in at the end of January. Each pole had to be pounded into the ground and then tested to make sure it could support the panels, each of which weighs 1,500 pounds. Megawatt Energy Solutions of Massachusetts is performing the work.

“They hook them up underground, they dig a trench that runs out to a big transformer,” Trombino said, pointing at a fence next to the self-storage facility next door. “The transformer is going to sit over there next to the storage unit fence line, and from there it goes to a telephone pole through that clearing in the trees and shoots out to Route 3 to the substation. You can see, it’s a sunny day, there’re no obstructions, it’s beautiful. It’s the perfect site for it.”

Trombino took over the project from Altus Power of Greenwich, Conn., in May 2015, after the Town Council refused to give Altus the large property tax exemption it had requested. He said he had learned a lot during his first foray into solar energy.

“My wife and I own a farm in Westerly, and I was approached to put some [panels] there,” he said. “It wasn’t really a good fit, but I wanted to learn about it, so I sat down with a bunch of different companies and I found this project had fallen by the wayside and got dropped. For various reasons, they couldn’t get it to fruition so I figured ‘no time like the present’ and took it over and here we are.”

The Town Council welcomed Trombino’s purchase of the derelict site because it will generate an additional $2,500 in annual tax revenue on a property that could not be developed for housing and would have sat vacant.

“It’s the first solar project in the town, and it’s beginning to take shape,” town Council President Frank Landolfi said. “Hopefully, we’ll have more, whether it’s on a farm or elsewhere.”

The town recently passed ordinances regulating commercial solar installations. It also amended its farm viability ordinance, clearing the way for farmers to install commercial solar arrays. The intent of the amendment is to make it possible for farmers to supplement their incomes by allowing solar panels to be installed on a portion of their land.

Trombino, who also developed two business parks in town, said he was planning to build several more solar stations, but he said it was too early to discuss the details of those projects.

“There’s three or four in the planning stages right now, this size and up to six times this size,” he said. “Hopkinton’s been a very proactive community for business. I’ve had great success with Hopkinton. Everyone from the building office, the planning office, the Town Council, everyone’s great to work with. It’s a well-run town, so I’d like to pay that back and continue to develop things in Hopkinton. Plus, there’s a draw here. We’re so close to the highway and all my business parks are full and there’s a demand for more. I have approached other towns and they weren’t as receptive.” @CynthiaDrummon4

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