For Immediate Release: 8/21/2017 8:21 am
Worcester, MA (August 17, 2017) - The largest municipally-owned solar array in New England was officially connected to the power grid today, in a ceremony Thursday at the former Greenwood Street landfill.
The Greenwood Street Solar Farm covers 25 acres with 28,600 solar panels. It is expected to produce enough energy to power 1,340 homes per year, and is anticipated to save the City $60 million or more over its expected 30 year life.
"Worcester is proud to be at the forefront of the green energy movement," said Worcester City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. "With solar panels stretching as far as 19 football fields, this project is a highly-visible example of work that has gone on under the radar for years to make Worcester a leader in renewable energy. From improvements to make our municipal buildings more energy efficient, to the conversion of every streetlight in the City to LED bulbs and solar panels at nine different schools, Worcester is making huge strides in protecting our environment and our taxpayers' money."
The $27 million solar project is expected to pay for itself after six years. Using conservative estimates, the City will recoup roughly $45 million over the 20 years of the project, and about $15 million more during the next 10 years. The array's life expectancy is 30-plus years.
"When Councilor Russell and I proposed this in 2012, we had no idea it would be so successful. This project makes good environmental sense and good fiscal sense," said Worcester Mayor Joseph M. Petty. "This is just one of the ways that we as a city are not just planning for the next year or the next ten years, but for decades to come."
The solar array will be municipally-owned, which allows the City to take advantage of selling electricity at the valuable net-metering rates and selling Solar Renewable Energy Credits. Gov. Charlie Baker in 2016 signed into law a bill lifting the state's solar net metering cap, a crucial step to making the project possible.
"The Greenwood Street solar array represents another important milestone for Worcester's adoption of clean energy, allowing the City to reinvest their energy savings in the community," said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. "Massachusetts continues to be a national leader in solar energy, with over 73,000 completed projects that reduce the cost of energy for the entire Commonwealth and are critical to achieving our ambitious emissions reduction goals."
The solar project was made possible by the City's Energy Savings Performance Contract with Honeywell. In 2011, the City signed the contract for energy conservation and renewable energy measures across 92 city-owned facilities. As part of the 20-year, multi-million dollar contract, the City is making critical investments to infrastructure and municipal facilities. In addition to the solar array, the energy efficiency and renewable energy projects include improved heating and cooling systems, heating systems' conversions from oil to natural gas, insulation, air sealing, water conservation, upgraded lighting fixtures and energy management control systems. In total, these improvements are expected to save the City more than $100 million over the next 20 years.
"We are honored to help put sustainability programs into action like the solar power system in the City of Worcester," said Kevin Madden, vice president, Honeywell Building Solutions. "Performance contracts are among the most valuable means to enable public entities to improve facilities without impacting their operating budget - that's a win for both city leaders and their communities."
A global leader in energy-saving technology and services, Honeywell has completed approximately 6,000 guaranteed efficiency projects around the world, work that is expected to decrease customers' energy and operating costs by an estimated $6 billion.
All contractors on the project were part of local unions – electricians, engineers, heavy machine operators and more - with majority coming primarily from Central and Eastern Massachusetts.
More information about the Greenwood Street Solar Array and other Worcester green energy initiatives can be found at WorcesterEnergy.org.