Greenfield saves on energy costs with solar array
Published: Saturday, August 11, 2012, 5:29 PM Updated: Saturday, August 11, 2012, 6:06 PM
GREENFIELD — The forecast for energy savings is sunny in Greenfield, where the first month of a new solar operation has netted the town $23,319 and generated enough electricity to power 278 homes.
The solar array atop the old, capped town landfill near Route 2 was built and operated by SunEdison. It uses 8,736 solar panels to turn sunlight into power, at a cost to the town of a penny per kilowatt hour. Town officials calculate they will save close to $250,000 a year over the 10-year agreement with SunEdison.
Greenfield is one of a number of Western Massachusetts communities that is trying to make hay while the sun shines by taking advantage of solar energy. A solar array in Easthampton produced nearly 267,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity in June and could save that city $1.5 million dollars over the course of 10 years. Solar projects have also come on line in Holyoke and Springfield, and Amherst has been planning to build a solar array atop its capped landfill.
In Northampton, the Board of Public Works is considering a proposal to locate a solar array on land that the city owns adjacent to its own municipal landfill.
Montague property owners are taking advantage of Solarize Massachusetts, a state-supported program that allows them to buy solar panels for their own homes and businesses with the help of energy credits. A similar program is coming to Greenfield courtesy of the local Sandri Companies, which is offering photovoltaic systems to residents at a low, affordable cost.
Greenfield Mayor William F. Martin said he expects the solar array there to eventually pay for half the municipal energy costs. He said the town is eager to move forward with a second solar farm off Severance Street, which would satisfy an additional 25 percent of the municipal energy.
“An often overlooked aspect of municipal renewable energy project such as the solar farm is the considerable cost savings that can be dedicated to other important community projects,” he said, numbering increased funding for education among them. “Greenfield is quickly moving toward becoming a community that is foreign fuel-free, and the solar farm projects are vital to the municipal initiative currently underway to keep the community in the forefront of sustainability.”
For more information on the Sandri program, call (413) 772-2121 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: MassLive (http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2012/08/greenfield_saves_on_energy_cos.html)