Massachusetts Schools, Town Cut Costs by 20% with Brownfield Solar Project

In Massachusetts, four schools districts and one town are drawing energy from a 3.68-MW ground-mounted solar project  on a brownfield site in Billerica, 20 miles north of Boston that went online on February 23, utility scale developer Soltage has announced.

Soltage, together with independent power producer Tenaska, completed the project, which is expected to generate 4,445-MWh of clean energy annually for the Town of Barre; Tantasqua Regional School District; Wachusetts Regional School District; Ralph Mahar Regional School District; and Petersham Center School.

Power generated by the project’s 11,204 photovoltaic panels will supply an average of 20 percent of the offtakers’ electricity needs at costs below local utility rates.

The project is located on a 553-acre brownfield industrial complex that included manufacturing and rail yard maintenance facilities, open storage areas, landfills, and former wastewater lagoons – all surrounded by residential properties and wetlands.

Tenaska is acting as the primary investor and will co-own the project as part of a portfolio investment it made with Soltage for new asset construction in late 2015.

The project also qualifies for Massachusetts’ solar renewable energy credit II (SRECII) program – assisting the Bay State in meeting its renewable energy targets – receiving the third-highest incentive levels available under the program because it was developed on a brownfield.

“Our schools and local governments should never have to decide between rising electricity prices or expanding opportunities to those they serve,” said Soltage CEO Jesse Grossman. “Distributed solar projects like this create tangible benefits for energy purchasers by locking in electricity costs well below utility rates; as well as for the state and local communities, by returning brownfield areas to productive use.”

We think it is a significant win-win to generate clean, renewable solar power from brownfield sites like this one,” said Tenaska SVP Tim Hemig.

Solar brownfield development is a particularly promising market, with more than 80,000 brownfields and contaminated lands pre-screened by the U.S. EPA for renewable energy development. Brownfields provide ideal locations for solar projects with flat, unshaded areas and proximity to grid infrastructure.

Soltage also recently announced three landfill-sited solar projects in Massachusetts totaling 15 MW.

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