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Thursday, July 19 2012

You're Invited: Solar Farm Ribbon Cutting Tomorrow

From a Greenfield Department of Public Works press release:

Construction of the Solar Farm on Greenfield’s capped landfill is complete and the town has been reaping the harvest since the facility underwent its final tests by Western Massachusetts Electric Company (WMECo) on 6/21/12. To date, due to the very long cloudless days we have been experiencing, the facility has been generating electricity at the rate of 4.7 megawatts. In its early years of operation it is estimated the facility will generate on average 2500 megawatt hours per year or 2,500,000 kilowatt hours per year. To give perspective, the average Massachusetts home uses about 7000 kilowatt hours per year. Last year, during which the town’s electrical consumption was down 15% over the prior year and down 30% since the town started aggressively tracking usage in 2008, the town-owned buildings, including the schools, used 4588 megawatt hours of electricity. At these rates of production and usage, the Farm will provide over 50% of the power needed to operate town-owned buildings.

The Solar Farm contains 8736 panels and 4 inverters that convert the DC (direct current) generated by the panels into AC (alternating current) that is fed into the electrical distribution grid. The facility has numerous protection features to protect utility linemen in the event of a power outage in the utility system. Gable Electric of Pittsfield was the electrical contractor for the project, who at one point after construction started last December had over twenty electricians working on the project.  The project covers approximately 15 acres of capped landfill area and was constructed in accordance to DEP requirements to protect the integrity of the cap.

Financially, the Farm will save the town approximately $225,000 per year. This project was engineered, constructed and paid for by the developer, SunEdison of Pennsauken, NJ.  SunEdison will be responsible for the physical and financial operation and maintenance of the facility for the duration of the twenty-year agreement with the Town. The only cost incurred by the Town was $4000 for technical and legal review of plans and agreements.

On Friday 7/20/12 at 3:00 p.m. at the Solar Farm site off Wisdom Way and adjacent to the Town’s Transfer Station, there will be a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the full operational status of the facility. William Martin, Mayor, cordially invites all members of the public to attend this event.


Sandra Shields, DPW Director

“We are very pleased to have this facility in complete operation.  It is a complicated and expensive endeavor to construct a facility such as this.   It has been a highly educational and pleasurable experience working with Paul Curran, CEO of Axio Power (which merged with SunEdison last year)  during the development of this facility. I would also like to thank the Greenfield and Hadley offices of WMECo for their cooperation during the permitting and start-up phases of the project.”

William Martin, Mayor

“We are very excited about this farm becoming a reality.  The financial savings to the town are an obvious benefit. More significantly, SunEdison and the town have converted a relatively unusable piece of property into a site that will generate clean, sustainable energy for decades.  Towns and cities can talk about being “green” but projects like this are where the “rubber meets the road.”  Our goal is to have the majority of power used in town-owned buildings generated by renewable resources.  Clearly this project is a huge step in that direction and we hope to have another solar installation become reality by the end of this year.”