Broadway Electric's struggles may leave Lenox, Lee solar plans in the dark


The financial struggles of the Boston-based Broadway Electrical Co., Inc., could delay upcoming solar installations in both Lenox and Lee, according to officials involved with the projects.

"They're going through a restructuring of their company," said Jeffrey Vincent, co-Interim Town Manager of Lenox.

Broadway Electrical Co., Inc., is a third-generation, family-owned contracting business founded in 1936. It is separate from Broadway Renewable Strategies, which supplies the solar installations, though there's some ownership in common, explained Beth Greenblatt, managing director of Beacon Integrated Solutions. She is the consultant representing Lenox and Lee for their solar projects.

Greenblatt told The Eagle that although Broadway Electrical is shutting down, the Renewable Strategies firm is "working with lenders and lawyers to make sure obligations can be fulfilled under their contracts with the towns."

The key requirement, she added, is that the solar installations must be operating and interconnected with Western Massachusetts Electric Co. by a state-imposed June 30 deadline so the projects qualify for money-saving energy credits.

According to Greenblatt, Broad-
way Renewable Strategies has legal contracts with Lee and Lenox that would be binding on any lender or other company that might take over the projects.

"The difference is that Broadway Electrical was going to provide a ‘turnkey solution' for the towns," she said. "Now it will seek the expertise of other companies to help the project." The firm's lender, which she was not authorized to identify, has a valuable portfolio of solar projects in Massachusetts, Greenblatt added.

As the "buyers' agent" representing Lee and Lenox, Greenblatt said she forwarded contracts signed by Broadway Renewable to Vincent and to Lee Town Administrator Bob Nason on Thursday.

"The company's executives are doing what they can to keep these projects going," she commented. "But the industry is abuzz." No specific explanation has been made public about the reasons for Broadway Electrical's demise.

According to Vincent, Broadway Renewable Strategies President Jonathan Wienslaw is trying to keep the division going.

The Lenox Solar Committee, joined by the Lee Solar Committee, is scheduled to meet with Wienslaw at 4 p.m. this Wednesday at Lenox Town Hall in a public session aimed at clarifying the company's intentions.

Describing a conference call Wienslaw held with Vincent and Nason on Friday, "he consistently said they want to keep Renewable Strategies as an existing entity," the Lenox official said.

"We need to sit down face to face and see documentation and scheduling so we're comfortable that we have a viable contractor," Vincent emphasized.

Wienslaw was unavailable for comment on Friday.

The town's contract, at a $5.7 million cost to Broadway, is to install solar panels at the wastewater treatment plant on Crystal Street in Lenox Dale, and later at the old landfill on nearby Willow Creek Road, a separate $10 million deal yet to be concluded pending environmental studies this spring.

"Wienslaw is trying to assure us that we'll have a company to deal with and that we'll have a solar project," Vincent told The Eagle on Friday at Town Hall.

But he acknowledged that pending projects could be in jeopardy. "We don't have all the information right now, but they're scrambling and that makes us nervous," he said. "At most, it would be a delay on the timetable of our project."

Vincent said he was reassured by the arrival Thursday of the contract signed by Wienslaw in December and forwarded by Greenblatt.

"That was good, I felt better," Vincent said. "Wienslaw went out on a limb, maybe, to sign a contract and now we have an official relationship."

According to Thomas Wickham, chairman of the Lee Energy Efficiency Committee, the scheduled joint meeting is aimed at finding out what's going on with the company and the impact on the two towns' solar projects.

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"I am concerned, that's why we want to hear directly from Broadway," Wickham stated in an e-mail message. "We have a lot of time and effort put into this [project]."

The $11.8 million municipal solar project for Lee could save taxpayers a total of $880,000 over the next 20 years through energy-credit reimbursements from WMECO. Three solar arrays on town-owned property would produce 2.9 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually.

The sites are on 4.5 acres of a 171-acre parcel off Stockbridge Road, formerly the old town landfill, and in front of Lee's wastewater treatment plant on Route 102, which would feed power directly to that facility. The town government hopes to reduce its $414,000 municipal electrical bill paid to WMECO each year.

The first phase of the Lenox project, producing nearly 1.2 million kilowatt hours a year, would save taxpayers an estimated $355,000 by the year 2034.

Gov. Deval Patrick has set a statewide goal of 1,600 megawatts produced by solar energy by 2020. So far, 425 megawatts of solar panels have been installed.

Eagle Staff Reporter Dick Lindsay contributed to this article.

To contact Clarence Fanto:
or (413) 637-2551.
On Twitter: @BE_cfanto Lenox Solar Project

Site: The town's wastewater treatment plant on Crystal Street in Lenox Dale.

Cost: $5.7 million (paid by Broadway Renewable Strategies).

Future site: The former town landfill on Willow Creek Road.

Municipal electric bill savings: $355,000 estimated total over 20 years.

Electricity produced: 1.2 million kilowatt hours annually.

Timetable: Installation must be operating by June 30 to qualify for solar renewable energy credits to offset the project cost.


Lee Solar Project

Sites: Former town landfill on Stockbridge Road; wastewater treatment plant on Route 102.

Cost: $11.8 million (paid by Broadway Renewable Strategies).

Municipal electric bill savings: $880,000 total over the next 20 years.

Electricity produced: 2.9 million kilowatt hours annually.

Timetable: Installation must be operating by June 30 to qualify for solar renewable energy credits to offset the project cost.

Source: Consultant Beth Greenblatt, Eagle archives.


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