Chemtura proposes solar panel project

This conceptual design provided by Nexamp, a Boston-based solar company, shows where solar panels would be installed behind 12 Spencer St. if the project, a joint venture between Nexamp and Chemtura, is approved. –CONTRIBUTED


NAUGATUCK — A local company plans to go a little greener this year.

Chemtura Corporation, a group of chemicals manufacturing companies specializing in plastic additives, has proposed placing 4,000 solar panels behind its building at12 Spencer St.

Last Wednesday representatives from Chemtura, Woodard & Curran, the engineering company that is working with Chemtura on this project, and Nexamp, the company that Chemtura will receive the solar panels from, came before the Inland Wetlands Commission to get approval for the project.

According to the plans, Chemtura owns approximately 58 acres at that site. Fifteen of those acres are proposed to be used for the solar project. The solar panels themselves will only take up approximately 5 acres.

The rest of the acreage will either be trees or grass, Alan Benevides, senior project manager at Woodard & Curran, explained.

Benevides said the site the company is proposing to use for the solar panels is currently a brownfield.

Chemtura wanted to not only remediate the site, but also put it to use. That was where the idea of placing solar panels came in, he said.

“We had two benefits, remediating an impacted site and, at the site time, generating energy,” Benevides said

Benevides said the area of remediation, which involves over 9 acres, needed minimal soil removal and would be capped with cement. Once the cap has been put into place, the company will lay six inches of soil over the cement, followed by a mesh-like material that will keep the soil in place, and gravel.

The area around the work area would remain wooded, so residents would not have to see the solar panels.

Paul Meyer, environmental remediation manager at Chemtura, explained this project would dovetail with the company’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint.

The solar panels will generate 1 megawatt of electricity, Benevides explained. This is approximately 1.4 million kilowatt hours per year, which is about 70 percent of the electricity Chemtura uses at that site.

Meyer said that one of the reasons Chemtura was undertaking this project was to reduce the stress the company puts on the borough’s electrical grid.

“We have an opportunity to do something good. We’ve been looking for reuse possibilities for that site for quite a while,” Meyer said.

The Inland Wetlands Commission gave the project its approval after learning that there were no wetlands or rivers neither on the property nor within the 150-foot border. In fact, the closest source of water was the Naugatuck River, which is approximately 700 feet away from the project’s edge.

The project must now be approved by the planning, zoning, police and fire commissions and get two permits from the state Department of Environmental and Energy Protection. If everything goes as planned, construction on the project is slated to begin in May, with a finish date set for the autumn.