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Solar acceleration in Massachusetts

The solar arrays are financed and constructed through a power purchase agreement with no upfront investment

The Fairhaven Housing Authority installed a 236 kilowatt solar energy system
The Fairhaven Housing Authority installed a 236 kilowatt solar energy system

Solect Energy has been selected to install a total of 8.7 megawatts (MW) of rooftop solar panels across schools, non-profits and municipalities across the US state of Massachusetts.


Working in conjunction with PowerOptions, the region’s largest energy buying consortium, Solect has already installed 4.2 MW and said it is on track to install another 4.5 MW under the state’s solar energy renewable certificate (SREC-II) programme for a total of 8.7MW.


According to the partners, municipalities, schools, housing authorities, and human service organisations cannot capture federal tax benefits for renewable energy systems on their own, as non-profits.


However, through them, these customers are able to finance and construct their solar arrays with no up-front investment through a power purchase agreement (PPA).


Under the PPA, Solect installs, owns and operates the solar arrays, and sells the power generated back to the entity at a reduced, fixed rate for the duration of a 20-year agreement.


The two companies project they will save these institutional, educational and municipal customers more than $20m over their agreements.


“What makes a PPA so attractive for cities, towns, and schools is they can leverage the RFP Solect won with PowerOptions, and avoid the cost, time and expertise needed to conduct their own RFP,” said Matt Shortsleeve, vice president of development at Solect Energy.


“The Solect-PowerOptions PPA complies with state procurement regulations and offers outstanding savings and contract terms for the customer.”


Across the state, more than 260 schools have already installed nearly 54MW of solar. MassSolar, an organisation that works to establish the renewable energy economy, projects that 82 per cent of schools in Massachusetts can save money by “going solar” and there is a potential for another 2,000 installations totaling 148 MW.


If every school in Massachusetts that could go solar did, an estimated $74m could be saved over the life of the projects. It also reports that 175 cities and towns in Massachusetts host one or more of their own solar projects. To date more than 400 municipal projects have a combined capacity of over 340 MW.


“At PowerOptions, we aim to support the public entities and non-profits that are serving our communities by making solar energy more accessible with offerings like our solar programme,” added Cynthia Arcate, president and CEO, PowerOptions.


“In addition to cost predictability and savings, schools and non-profits can implement their solar projects without the need for any upfront costs or ongoing maintenance responsibilities.”


Recent installations across the state include:


Fitchburg Public Schools installed two rooftop solar systems totaling 603 kilowatts (kW) on its Reingold Elementary School and Memorial Middle School. The savings forecast for both the Reingold Elementary School and the Memorial Middle School is nearly $1m combined over the term of the agreement.


Fairhaven Housing Authority (FHA), a public housing provider, installed a 236 kW solar energy system on the roof of its largest housing complex. FHA anticipates the array will provide up to 40 per cent of the facility’s annual electricity, and projects $467,000 in savings over the life of the 20-year agreement.


The City of Haverhill installed a 170 kW rooftop solar system on its City Hall, and an 80 kW rooftop solar array on the city’s maintenance garage. With the installation of the rooftop arrays, the city now expects to save approximately $22,000 annually.


The Somerset Berkley Regional School District installed a 348 kW solar energy system on the roof of its regional high school. The array is expected to cover up to 20 per cent of the school’s annual electricity use, and to save the school approximately $20,000 in year one on its energy expenses. The school anticipates nearly $500,000 in savings over the term of the agreement.


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