A view from West Point Road of the woodland where Giri-Sebasco Solar proposes to build a 5.4-acre, 1-megawatt solar array. The array would require about 10 acres of the forest to be cleared. Courtesy photo.

Giri Hotels’ plan to build a 5.4-acre solar array on a section of their property that abuts West Point Road has caused concern and dismay amongst Phippsburg’s small community.

Giri, which bought Phippsburg’s Sebasco Harbor resort last May, is partnering with Bold Coast Energy for the project, which will necessitate a nearly 10-acre clear cut.

After many residents spoke out against the proposed solar array at a Town meeting on Nov. 14, the Select Board proposed a 180-day moratorium on all new solar and wind energy projects. Although this will not affect the Giri-Sebasco project, it would give the town ample time to develop an ordinance about new solar and wind developments with input from its residents.

Still, some residents feel that action towards a moratorium was taken too quickly.

“It just seems like it’s really a knee jerk reactionary,” resident Cindy Brouwer addressed the Select Board at Wednesday’s meeting. “Solar arrays have been coming down the pike the past several years all across the state. It seems like the town could have been working on the ordinances, the comprehensive plan, we’re still operating off the old one. We could have been proactive to get this in place.”

Brouwer added that she was concerned about how a “limited number of uninformed individuals who are going to show up for [next week’s] meeting and vote on something that could significantly impact the town.”


The draft of the moratorium states that its purpose is to “allow Town officials and staff reasonable time to evaluate the concerns raised in regard to further development of Commercial Solar and Wind Energy Facilities, and to develop necessary ordinances and Comprehensive Plan amendments to provide adequate protection for the property, health, welfare, and safety of the Town of Phippsburg’s residents to address these concerns.”

There is no mention of how to regulate solar or wind developments in the town’s comprehensive plan, adopted in 2006.

Laura Sewell, co-chair of Phippsburg’s comprehensive plan committee, said in an interview that she worries a moratorium could “send[] a signal of unwelcome.”

“I think people were upset enough about the location, that there was a lot of emotion,” she explained, “And it was appeased by saying, okay, we’ll take a break, we’ll discuss this as a public issue as a town. And here we are spending a lot of time and effort on a moratorium that may or may not make any difference in terms of future amendments to any ordinances.”

Some residents, however, are in favor of the moratorium, which would give the town a chance to develop its own regulations surrounding future solar arrays.

“I believe that the town was caught unprepared when GIRI made the proposal for the solar farm,” said resident Ona Barnet, “Most people in town are pro solar energy – but many people are concerned about cutting old woods in order to build them while there are open spaces available, and also who (or whom) that energy will benefit.”

The Planning Board will lead a site walk this Sunday, Dec. 10, through the area where Giri Sebasco solar has planned to put their array. Next Wednesday, Dec. 13, the town will vote on the moratorium. The meeting, which will be held at the Phippsburg Elementary School, begins at 5 p.m.

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