By Emily Kingston
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Berkshires, a world- class cultural center renowned for magnificent forests and spacious mountains, also has a rapidly growing reputation as a Massachusetts green-energy hub. The city will soon be home to two universal solar facilities owned and operated by Eversource, together capable of producing more than 3 megawatts of clean, renewable energy.
Also in the Berkshires, the company is currently constructing a 2.3 megawatt site in Lee and conducting a feasibility study for a proposed 6.6 megawatt site in Dalton. If all projects move forward as planned, a total of four Eversource-owned solar plants in the Berkshires would be capable of producing more than 12 megawatts of clean, green power.
“We’re proud to be a leader in the clean energy future of Massachusetts as we bring more competitively priced, zero-emission solar power to customers across the commonwealth,” said Eversource Vice President of Business Development Mike Ausere. “We applaud and share the vision of state policy leaders to make the benefits of green energy available to an increasing number of homes, businesses and communities. We also want to thank our community partners for their help and foresight bringing the benefit of clean power to their communities.”
Last December, the Department of Public Utilities approved Eversource’s plan to increase its commitment to clean solar energy, expanding the amount of solar power produced by the company in Massachusetts from 8 megawatts currently to a maximum of 70 megawatts statewide.
Following months of site reviews, community meetings, engineering reports, and permit requests across Massachusetts, the site on Partridge Road in Pittsfield will be the first completed as part of Eversource’s solar expansion plan. The company built its very first solar installation in 2010 on Silver Lake in Pittsfield, becoming the first energy company in Massachusetts to receive approval from the commonwealth to develop a universal solar facility.
The sites where the solar power plants are being built in both Western and Eastern Massachusetts have all undergone thorough inspections and analysis, making sure the property is accessible, environmentally suitable, and able to accommodate ground-mounted solar panels. Members of Eversource’s solar and community relations teams have met with city and town officials, as well as abutters, to keep them fully informed during the entire site selection process.
Along with the significant environmental benefits of increasing the number of universal solar energy facilities in Massachusetts, there are substantial cost-saving benefits for Eversource customers as well. The company estimates it will produce solar power for about 18 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared to upwards of 50 cents per kilowatt-hour for some private projects currently operating within the commonwealth.
Eversource will sell the solar energy it produces directly into the regional energy market and customers will benefit from the proceeds. Additionally, the company will receive Solar Renewable Energy Credits for the power it produces and will pass the savings along to customers through electricity rates. As a regulated electric utility in Massachusetts Eversource will not receive net metering credits, which will further reduce the price to customers. Eversource also pays local property taxes on all of its solar facilities.
The company’s new facilities will also represent a significant reduction in greenhouse emissions, equivalent to taking more than 6,000 cars off the road per year.
Eversource (NYSE: ES) transmits and delivers electricity and natural gas to 1.7 million customers throughout Massachusetts, including approximately 1.4 million electric customers in 140 communities and 300,000 gas customers in 51 communities. Recognized as the top U.S. utility for its energy efficiency programs by the sustainability advocacy organization Ceres, Eversource harnesses the commitment of its approximately 8,000 employees across three states to build a single, united company around the mission of safely delivering reliable energy and superior customer service. For more information, please visit our website (www.eversource.com) and follow us on Twitter (@eversourceMA) and Facebook (facebook.com/EversourceMA.)