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Solar Power Gains Popularity in Massachusetts

Wednesday, February 2nd 2011 6:06 PM
By GetSolar Staff.
Solar Power Gains Popularity in Massachusetts New England is suffering through one of its coldest, snowiest winters on record - but many in the six-state region are planning for brighter days ahead.

Solar power is rapidly taking hold in New England, due in large part to federal and state rebate programs. Old-fashioned Yankee thrift may be playing a role, as well: Solar can help homes and businesses slash their energy spending and lock in low electricity rates for decades.

Massachusetts, as the most populous New England state, is playing a major role in the region's clean-energy push. In fact, two major Massachusetts solar projects were announced in January.

Construction on the first, planned for the western city of Springfield, should begin soon, Western Massachusetts Electric Co. officials indicated. The plant - which is slated to be built on a former landfill - will comprise 17,000 panels and should produce 4.2 megawatts of energy. That's enough to power roughly 800 homes. Springfield's Republican newspaper noted.

"It's not the wave of the future, it's here," the city's mayor, Domenic J. Sarno, was quoted as saying about solar power.

Another large-scale solar project is in the planning stages, too. This one, developed by Boston-based Southern Sky Renewable Energy, will be even larger than Springfield's - it's expected to produce 5.6 megawatts of energy.

Coincidentally, Southern Sky's proposed solar plant is also slated to be built on a landfill. It will be erected in the town of Canton and is expected to include 24,000 panels.

Canton official John J. Connolly called the proposed project a win-win. Not only will town residents have access to clean, carbon-free solar energy, but electric utility NStar will be able to buy the power the array generates. Massachusetts utilities have to purchase 25 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020, and the Canton project will help NStar achieve compliance with that mandate.

In addition, Connolly told the Boston Globe, the town will get to collect property tax on land that would otherwise lie unused. "The land was just going to sit there forever," he was quoted as saying. "This is a no-brainer."

With the myriad benefits that solar power provides, it's little wonder it is taking hold in the Bay State. Massachusetts is likely to see even more solar projects in the years to come.

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