Letter: Company Responsible For Williamsburg Solar Disaster Hired As Hickory Ridge Solar Developer


Ground mounted solar array construction in Oregon. Photo: Flckr.com. (CC BY 2.0)

On February 3, 2023, the town of Amherst posted a “courtesy notice,” announcing that “the Fort River Solar 2, LLC (“FRS2”) Solar Project, managed by Amp Solar Development Inc. (“Amp”) is set to begin construction in the coming weeks.” The notice continued—” The Town and FRS2, along with the site contractor, Dynamic Energy, will be constructing a 3.83 MWac community solar project.”

Not mentioned in the town’s posting is the fact that Dynamic Energy was responsible for the 2018 Williamsburg solar disaster. As detailed in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s press release on February 1, 2021, Dynamic Energy Solutions “disregarded fundamental pollution control requirements for construction sites.” According to Michael Gorski, director of Mass DEP’s Western Regional Office, “the impacts to the wetlands and wildlife habitat areas were not only egregious, they were entirely avoidable.”  Dynamic agreed to pay approximately $1.14 million in a settlement with the commonwealth.

Dynamic’s work in Williamsburg is a prime example of solar gone wrong. A detailed description of the disaster and the settlement can be found in the attorney general’s press release, and in this Daily Hampshire Gazette article.

The Fort River solar project at the former site of the Hickory Ridge Golf Course is located on environmentally sensitive, flood-prone town land. This site leaves no room for error. Based on their track record, Dynamic’s role as site contractor suggests the following actions need to be considered immediately:

1. Given the fragile environmental conditions at Hickory Ridge an environmental monitor, paid for by AMP and working for the town, must be required immediately.

2. Given that AMP has not been required to provide a bond to cover any damages and necessary remediation, the town should remedy this by requiring a bond from AMP and Dynamic.

3. Given the concerns raised by this information, the Town Council, Planning Board, and ZBA should discuss whether AMP, as the party responsible for hiring Dynamic Energy Solutions, may be allowed to oversee projects now and in the future.

Jenny Kallick. & Michael Lipinski

Jenny Kallick. & Michael Lipinski are members of Smart Solar Amherst

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5 thoughts on “Letter: Company Responsible For Williamsburg Solar Disaster Hired As Hickory Ridge Solar Developer

  1. Given that it was my son’s property that was massively damaged by this incident, I think Amherst might want to carefully consider its decision in this matter. Perhaps they have learned something from this experience, perhaps not. The photographs in the Gazette article don’t begin to show how egregious the damage to wetlands and forest really was.

  2. The decision to proceed without an Environmental Monitor and a significant bond is mind boggling given the Williamsburg history and risks involved. From last weeks article in the Indy: “The project has been permitted through the Amherst Zoning Board of Appeals and the Conservation Commission.” I had volunteered to join The Conservation Commission last June, but was never contacted. I’m now a member of the Water Supply Protection Committee which wasn’t involved. I’ll now look for the CC minutes to learn why they signed off without those conditions.

  3. Steve Judge, chair of the ZBA, said last year that the town needs a solar siting bylaw. He said that the ZBA did its best to evaluate the project, but had no established guidelines to go by. The solar bylaw is being developed now, but its absence during this permitting may explain why the usually comprehensive conditions for projects were not attached to this one. Also, the sale of the property to the town hinged on the creation of the solar array by a second party.

  4. A reminder that even requiring monitoring doesn’t ensure enforcement of the monitoring or other regulations and agreements. That was part of the problem in Williamsburg. Monitoring has to have teeth and require immediate action if a problem is discovered–which it won’t be if monitoring is in any way slipshod or the word of the construction folks taken without confirmation.

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