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Worry over solar sprawl spreads across Rhode Island

Updated: Dec 7, 2018

Burgeoning solar projects reignite age-old debate in places like Coventry, Exeter and Hopkinton about how to preserve the rural character of a community while still allowing revenue-generating development.

CRANSTON — From atop a rocky knoll near his house, Douglas Doe frowns upon the site of what will soon be Rhode Island’s largest solar installation.

Almost nothing stands in the way of his view of the dusty expanse. But for a band of woods growing within a wetlands buffer, every tree on the site has been taken down. Sixty acres in all.

On this Saturday morning, a gravel truck rumbles through a chain-link gate to pick up another load from the 80,000 cubic yards of stone blasted from ledge that lined one side of the property. A rock crusher is busy at work, while bulldozers dig into giant mounds of dirt.

“It’s like site preparation for a mall,” Doe says, shaking his head. “It doesn’t belong in a residential area.”

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