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North County Solar Projects Delayed But Not Dead

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
02:32PM / Wednesday, January 09, 2013
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The former landfill in Adams will soon be the home of a solar array, town officials hope.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Two major solar energy projects were announced two years ago for North County but still no construction has begun.

But the projects aren't dead. The town of Adams is eying construction on a massive array at the landfill to begin in March while North Adams has started the whole process over.

Tecta Solar, a division of Tecta America Corp., agreed in 2011 to construct a 1.1 megawatt solar array at the former Adams landfill. But for more than a year, the project was stalled as the company sought an interconnection agreement with National Grid.

According to Town Administrator Jonathan Butler, that holdup has been solved and just after the holidays, the company resubmitted its design to the state Department of Environmental Protection and is planning construction in March.

"They resubmitted to DEP to get their proposed layout reauthorized," Butler said on Tuesday. "It's actually a smaller footprint."

Technology has advanced so the company can now produce the same amount of power in less space, Butler said, so the reauthorization is needed. The new footprint has less of an impact on wetlands so Butler doesn't expect any hitches.

The town is estimating some $120,000 in cost savings in the next fiscal year because the array is expected to be online for most, if not all, of that year. The power generated is enough to power most of the town's buildings, such as Town Hall, the police station and the library, Butler said.

In North Adams, the city held a series of meetings in early 2012 to discuss entering a contract with Blue Wave Capital to install a 4.6 MW solar array. The talk was preliminary and did not include specific locations, although the landfill, airport and high school were being considered.

Ultimately, the city did not enter a contract with Blue Wave after zoning and other issues, including financial backing, made the deal problematic but city officials say the solar option is not dead.

Administrative Officer Michael Canales said the city is currently talking with another company to revitalize the idea.

"At this point, we have selected a company to move forward with in exploring the solar option," Canales said on Wednesday. "On this one we are being cautious."

The city is much further away from seeing an actual project than Adams. No work had been done regarding location and permitting with the other project, Canales said, so the whole effort is starting from scratch.

The company needs to secure the funding and reach agreements with the city before the project can move forward, he said.


Tags: alternative energy,   municipal project,   renewable energy,   solar array,   

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