Carver: PineGate’s “dual use” arsenic solar panel poles
July 2022: Toxic poles contaminated with Copper Chromated Arsenate are being pulled, future mounting poles for solar unknown
Rochester Road: 44 acres, thousands of arsenic treated poles for 6,291 solar panels, lithium ion batteries in cranberry bog; earth removal nearby
Tremont Street: 57 acres, thousands of arsenic treated poles for 12,393 solar panels & lithium ion batteries in cranberry bog
MassDEP Website with links to sampling of one of the PineGate sites. Documents can be downloaded from MassDEP’s site here.
Documents are also here in a Google Drive.
Lawsuit not being pursued; alleged the Carver Conservation Commission violated the Wetlands Protection Act
On January 14, 2022, a homeowner abutting PineGate’s dual use solar project using arsenic treated timber poles sued the Carver Conservation Commission and PineGate Renewables. The lawsuit demanded transparency and accountability from the Carver Conservation Commission. The public should not have to sue to get a straight answer and information about this crisis situation. PineGate admits arsenic is leaching into the soil. It will migrate to the groundwater. Instead of following the law, the Conservation Commission is fighting the lawsuit. It was required submit the entire record, all the documents, to the court for its review. Instead it omitted key documents. Eventually, the team of high priced experts hired by Pine Gate to fight the lawsuit were able to convince the court there was no potential harm which resulted in a loss on legal standing.
The records and PineGate’s “studies” on the toxic poles here.
The lawsuit argued two substantial changes to the project. They required a new permit application each time. They required a public hearing and a chance for public input. There should have been full and complete disclosure of PineGate’s studies of the impacts of the arsenic poles on soil, groundwater and cranberries. Instead, the Conservation Commission hid this information.
Dual use solar is called an “experiment” by Iain Ward, cranberry industry consultant and PineGate. PineGate obtained Carver planning board and conservation commission approval for steel poles in 2019. No state permits were required although the Department of Energy Resources issued a “statement of qualifications” for the project.
In Fall, 2021, public outcry against the arsenic poles forced the Conservation Commission to act. Grassroots activists exposed the threats to public health, water and cranberry crops from PineGate’s copper-chromated arsenic poles PineGate. With a wink and a nod and another closed door deal, the Carver Conservation Commission issued an order allowing PineGate to change the plans a second time – this time proposing to replace all 3,400 arsenic poles with concrete poles. The Conservation Commission violated the Wetlands Protection Act and Town Bylaw a second time.
Replacing the arsenic poles was a big win for the Pull the Poles grassroots campaign.
The state’s SMART solar program gives additional subsidies for ground mounted solar on farm land. Some would say using arsenic poles for a “green” renewable energy project is not so “SMART”. Many say dual use “agrovoltaics” especially when combined with lithium ion batteries is a bad deal for our food systems and our farmland.
July 31, 2019: Carver Conservation Commission issues Wetlands Order of Conditions.
Sept. 24, 2019: Carver Planning Board approval of site plan and special permt.
Dec. 22, 2020: Beals & Thomas construction plans submitted to the Planning Board show solar mounted on steel posts. Page 16 of the PDF.
On December 23, 2020 PineGate emailed the “Carver Permitting Department/Building Commissioner” to report on “minor updates” to the project. This included a “transition from I-Beams helical piles to timber piles.” The Public Records don’t show any response from the Planning Board, Building Commissioner or Conservation Commission in response to the email. On page 59 of the PDF. The Beals+Thomas construction plans do not say this.
February 23, 2021 Building Inspector issues Building Permit.
February 24, 2021, a letter to the Town says PineGate has taken over the project, calling it Solar Carver 1 LLC and Solar Carver 3 LLC. PDF page 51.
Spring 2021: Conservation Commission members Germain, Moore with Beals and Thomas and Monroe, Conservation Agent, tour the site, CCA poles are on site. They approve replacing steel poles with CCA timber poles
Summer, Fall 2021: Public outcry about CCA poles being installed along Route 58 and next to homes.
November 2021: Conservation Commission allows PineGate to replace CCA poles with concrete poles.
January 2022: Abutter to Rochester Road site sues Conservation Commission and PineGate for violations of the Wetlands Protection Act.
March/April 2022: Conservation Commission sends letter to DOER saying speed up the review process.
April 2022: Town of Carver Conservation Commission files “administrative record” that will form the basis for the evidence in the lawsuit. The record is incomplete. See a copy here.