FirstLight Power Resources (FirstLight) announced that construction of a 2 megawatt (MW) solar facility has started on a portion of its property at Northfield Mountain in Northfield, Massachusetts. The facility, which will be one of the largest solar installations in New England, will consist of more than 18,000 photovoltaic panels covering approximately 11 acres of land. Alongside the Connecticut River, FirstLight’s Northfield Mountain is home to a large pumped storage hydro power generation operation and a group of recreational facilities, including picnic and camping areas, hiking trails, canoe and kayak rentals, and a Visitors Center that welcomes some 75,000 people each year. Electricity from the solar project will provide an in-state source of green power to the region. The project will be the first solar facility operated by FirstLight. In addition to Northfield Mountain, FirstLight operates 15 other power plants, primarily pumped storage hydroelectric and conventional hydroelectric facilities, in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
“We’re excited about this project as it is our first foray into solar energy,” said John Howard, Plant Manager at Northfield Mountain. “It’s a way for us to diversify our energy production capabilities while putting resources to good use -- both our acreage on the ground and the sun’s power from the sky.”
In addition, the new solar facility will produce Massachusetts Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs), which must be purchased by utilities and other organizations to help them comply with the state’s renewable energy requirements or other business objectives. FirstLight affiliates, GDF SUEZ Energy Marketing NA and GDF SUEZ Energy Resources, will manage sales of those SRECs to interested customers. Construction of the Northfield Mountain solar project, which will create approximately 40 local construction jobs, started at the end of June and be complete by late November.