NORTH ADAMS, MASS., Sept. 22, 2015 (THE BEACON) -- "With the opening of a 3.5 megawatt solar panel facility, North Adams now expects to be 100 percent solar powered. The thousands of panels supplementing the electricity for the municipal and school buildings reside on a capped landfill about a mile from the city center.
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The city agreed to a twenty year purchasing agreement with Syncarpha Capital, a New York based private equity firm that deals heavily with solar energy systems.
Commercially, the rate of electricity reached $0.1503 per kilowatt hour in June 2015, according to eia.gov. Even with a possible increase of up to 2 percent a year, the project, along with other projects, could save taxpayers $400,000 a year.
As of September, the state of Massachusetts had a 923 megawatt solar capacity, a dramatic rise from the fewer than 100 megawatt capacity of 2011. The North Adams facility will add 3.5 to this figure, pushing the state closer to their announced goal of 1600 megawatts by 2020.
“[We are] well on our way,” Dan Burgess, deputy commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, said. “As a region…we have plateaued the amount of energy we are using. Overall the growth is flat.”
This grants the state a better understanding of future energy needs and allows for better planning on where and how to increase renewable resource usage. Going into depth about Massachusetts and the New England region as a whole, the commissioner spoke of the disadvantages the State faces with intense winters and varied terrain.
The way this new solar facility will work is the electricity produced by the panels will go into the grid and be purchased back by the town from Syncarpha Capital at a reduced cost. Mayor Richard Alcombright opened this site earlier this month along with Senator Benjamin Downing.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) ranked Massachusetts number 1 in the nation for the fourth consecutive time in 2014. Specifically for installed solar capacity, Massachusetts is ranked fourth by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) for 2014.
“I think that’s awesome,” said Sophomore Stefani Nieves when asked about a possible 100 percent solar North Adams.
“There are more than 30,000 solar installations across Massachusetts and projects like the one in North Adams are helping communities, businesses, and residents in the Commonwealth reduce their energy costs,” said Burgess.
MASSPIRG is currently operating a solar energy campaign and will attempt to unveil the details of the campaign at a press conference in the near future. Senior Christian Kennedy, the operator of this campaign for MCLA, has set the goals and is working on increasing awareness of anti-solar movements.
“Lifting the net metering cap,” and committing Governor Charlie Baker to a “20 percent solar energy state by 2025,” said Kennedy when asked about his campaign’s goals."