Western Massachusetts Electric Company (WMECo) announced plans to develop its second large-scale solar energy facility. The selected site on Cottage Street in Springfield will accommodate some 17,000 solar panels, producing up to 4.2 megawatts (MW) of solar energy.
WMECo officials joined local officials in announcing the agreement to develop the capped landfill into a large-scale solar energy facility. Upon completion, the Springfield facility will join WMECo's Silver Lake Solar Facility as two of the largest in the region.
"The Springfield facility continues to build on the experience we gained in developing our recently completed project in Pittsfield. Our approach enables us to deliver large scale solar at a level of cost effectiveness that no one would have thought possible a few short years ago." said Peter J. Clarke, WMECo president and chief operating officer.
"Our solar program helps stimulate development of large scale solar facilities and the demand for regional construction and engineering services. Our use of a capped landfill creates a new and viable use for an otherwise challenged property within our home city," Clarke said.
"We are delighted to partner with WMECO to advance this important solar project," said Mayor Domenic Sarno. "My Administration has been working to advance this project and other important conservation and sustainability efforts to take a lead in the 'green' economy. I look forward to growing the City's partnership with WMECO," he said.
The project will bring $22M of construction to the region and is expected to contribute several hundred thousand dollars of annual property tax revenue to the city of Springfield. Springfield is one of the two Gateway Communities in WMECo's service territory and is home to some 65,000 WMECo customers.
The Commonwealth has a goal to install 250 megawatts of solar by 2017. Under the landmark Green Communities Act (GCA), each Massachusetts electric utility may own up to 50 MW of solar generation, subject to approval by the Department of Public Utilities (DPU).
WMECo was the first utility to receive DPU approval and is authorized to install 6 MW of solar. Local permitting for the project is underway and WMECo expects to begin construction in the second quarter of this year. Construction of the Springfield facility will complete the initial 6 megawatt authorization received from the DPU.