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  • New England Just Got Greener
Oct 2010
SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Oct. 28, 2010 — Western Massachusetts Electric Company (WMECO) recently celebrated the completion of the largest solar energy facility in New England. The 1.8-MW project, at the William Stanley Business Park on Silver Lake Boulevard in Pittsfield, is the first in WMECO’s 6-MW solar program.

“Large-scale solar energy today becomes a reality in the commonwealth,” said Peter Clarke, president and CEO of WMECO. “Silver Lake provides tangible evidence that large-scale utility-owned solar makes sense on many levels. We are demonstrating a commitment to development of the region’s renewable energy industry while also revitalizing an environmentally challenged site,” Clarke said.

“WMECO’s Silver Lake solar project is an important contribution to the commonwealth’s pursuit of a clean energy future. Situated in Pittsfield, it also joins a growing solar cluster in the Berkshires that is critical to meeting Governor Patrick’s goal to have 250 megawatts of solar power installed by 2017,” Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles said. “Large projects such as this provide economies of scale that reduce the cost of this clean, renewable energy source. I’m glad to see our utilities going greener and look forward to more of it in the years ahead.”

Situated on eight acres of land owned by WMECO and the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority, the facility consists of approximately 6,500 solar panels, producing 1.8 MW of electricity from the sun – enough to power 300 homes. The panels are low-profile, and the property is enclosed by a decorative fence. Additionally, the facility will bring approximately $150,000 of annual property tax revenues to the city of Pittsfield.

Celebrants of the milestone included state and local officials, such as Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Philip Giudice, State Sen. Benjamin Downing, Pittsfield Mayor James Ruberto and Berkshire Economic Development Corporation President David Rooney.

The project employed a variety of local and regional contractors. At the peak of construction, approximately 35 full-time union craft workers contributed their services to the project. Contractors involved in the project included: Weston & Sampson, J.H. Maxymillian, American Capital Energy, E.S. Boulos and Witch Enterprises.

In August 2009, WMECO became the first utility in New England to receive approval from the Department of Public Utilities to build solar energy facilities in the region. The DPU’s decision authorizes WMECO to build up to 6 MW of solar facilities over the next two years. WMECO’s program focuses on larger-scale solar facilities located on sites with significant usage restrictions, such as capped landfills and brownfield properties.

Western Massachusetts Electric Company, a Northeast Utilities company, serves approximately 200,000 customers in 59 communities throughout western Massachusetts.

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