Future bright for North Adams solar energy development

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NORTH ADAMS >> Solar energy development continues to trend upward in North Adams.

Three separate proposals for solar arrays within city limits, anticipated to generate more than 3 megawatts combined, will be heard by the planning board this month.

Colorado-based Clean Energy Collective is proposing clear cutting a total of more than 10 acres of forested land for two arrays on Witt's Ledge near Reservoir Road, according to plan documents submitted to the city. The arrays, which are adjacent to each other, are expected to churn out 1.3 megawatts of power.

In addition, Holland Co., Inc., has applied for permits to construct a 642 kilowatt array on South State Street.

Like a similar project that has already gotten underway on East Road in Adams, Clean Energy Collective expects to have community members buy into the power generated from the array through its Solar Perks program.

Solar Perks allows any National Grid customer to become a member to "receive credit on their electric bills for their subscribed energy production, and then pay CEC 95 percent of this credit retaining a 5 percent savings for themselves."

According to CEC, that savings is fixed throughout the length of the contract.

"Obviously Massachusetts has a great landscape for renewable energy development," said Tim Braun, a spokesman for CEC, of the company's recent interest in the area.

Mayor Richard Alcombright said he is a supporter of solar energy, and his only concern with the proposals near Reservoir Road would be that stormwater runoff is adequately contained.

In addition to private solar proposals, such as those by CEC, the city's solar project at its former landfill continues to progress — even as other projects across the state have lost time due to harsh winter conditions, according to Assessor Ross Vivori. The landfill project is supposed to be fully online — and resulting offsetting the city's electricity costs through net metering — by September.

The city also has bought into solar projects in Westminster and North Brookfield, which should be up and running later this year, also.

Vivori, who has spearheaded the city's recent interest in solar energy with city Administrative Officer Michael Canales, expects the city's solar credit purchases to offset more than 80 percent of its electricity usage.


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