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Five MA State Facilities to Add Solar

In a move to cut energy budgets at several state facilities, the Massachusetts State Department of Energy Resources (DOER) has signed agreements with Ameresco to design, construct, finance, own, and operate solar power systems on five state facilities. 

Under 20-year power purchase agreements (PPAs), the state facilities will receive solar-generated electricity at a discount to their current electricity bills. The discounted prices were made possible in part by the Massachusetts Solar Stimulus Program (MaSS), which used ARRA stimulus funds to reduce the capital cost of the projects.

The five solar power systems will generate 560 kW of electricity capacity and 700,000 kWh of annual electric energy. The solar systems will be installed on the rooftops of two Massport Logan Airport terminals, Bridgewater State College, Worcester State College and the Canton Housing Authority. All the solar installations will be built with Internet-enabled measurement and monitoring systems.

The inverters, which convert the solar generated direct current electricity to alternating current electricity, will be manufactured locally by Solectria. All other major components, including the Sharp solar panels are made in the U.S.A.

In February, Massachusetts announced plans to install solar systems at 12 public wastewater treatment plants, which are expected to generate 4.5 million kilowatt hours of energy.

This was followed in March with the launch of a new financing plan that allows the Commonwealth to fund energy efficient and renewable energy projects at dozens of state buildings that will save millions of dollars in energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

On the other side of the country in Arizona, SunEdison, SOLON and Pima County activated a 1-megawatt (MW) solar power plant, touted as the largest solar deployment to date in the county. The solar power plant is expected to produce over 2 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy annually and more than 40 million (kWh) of energy over the next 20 years. It will be used to offset demand for conventional grid electricity.

The project was made possible through a solar services agreement between Pima County and SunEdison that required no upfront costs from the county. The county estimates it will save between $1.2 to $2 million over the 20-year contract, based on projected conventional energy price increases of between 2.4 to 4 percent a year.

SunEdison is responsible for the financing and ownership of the system and will work with SOLON, which will operate and maintain the system under contract with SunEdison.

The solar power system will offset more than 47 million pounds of carbon dioxide over the initial 20 years of operation, according to the companies.  It’s also expected to displace the use of between 1.1 and 1.6 million gallons of water per year, which would have been lost to evaporation during the “wet cooling” process involved in conventional electrical generation.

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