Statewide Solar Power Installations Surpass 50 Megawatts; Growth on Track to Exceed 90 Megawatts by Year's End
Marking the Summer Solstice - the year's longest day of sunlight -- events highlight expanded solar power and business growth in Massachusetts
BOSTON - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - Today marks the Summer Solstice -- with more hours of daylight than any other day of the year -- and the Patrick-Murray Administration is using the occasion to highlight dramatic growth in solar energy since Governor Deval Patrick deployed a suite of clean energy policies and programs to support his goal for 250 megawatts (MW) of solar power in Massachusetts by 2017.
Massachusetts had just 3.5 MW of solar energy installed in January 2007, and about 30 companies involved in the manufacture, sale, and installation of solar power. Since then, the number of solar companies in the Commonwealth has swelled to approximately 200, employment in the state's solar sector has more than doubled, and last week the amount of solar power installed in Massachusetts reached 51.5 MW - equivalent to the electricity used by 8,145 Massachusetts households annually.
"As of today, solar panels across Massachusetts - at homes, schools, businesses, farms, industrial facilities and more - are generating over 50 megawatts of clean, renewable energy, and we are on track to have over 90 megawatts installed or under contract by the end of this year," said Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. "In the process, we have added companies and jobs, and seen the cost of installing solar power cut in half. We have more work to do to reach the Governor's goal, but we clearly have much to celebrate."
To highlight this expansion and the resulting benefits in terms of jobs, energy cost stability, and greenhouse gas emissions, Patrick-Murray Administration energy officials visited a variety of solar power sites across the state today. The day began with Secretary Sullivan's visit to the Greater Boston Food Bank's 200 kilowatt (kW) array, a system financed with $162,355 in federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds under the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center's (MassCEC) Commonwealth Solar Stimulus program -- and expected to meet 10 percent of the Food Bank's electricity demand.
Following the Secretary's event in Boston, officials of EEA, its Department of Energy Resources (DOER), and MassCEC fanned out to mark solar progress at three other locations:
• An 18.9 kW system at Edgewood Bogs in Carver, financed with a MassCEC Commonwealth Solar rebate and expected to supply over 85 percent of the cranberry farm's historical energy demand;
• A 200 kW rooftop system at Simonian Early Learning Center in Sutton, which grew out of an effort to repair a 20-year-old leaky roof and benefitted from $20,000 in technical assistance from the DOER's Green Communities Division as well as investment of a $150,000 federal Recovery clean energy grant; and
• A 1.58 MW ground-mounted system at the Pittsfield Wastewater Treatment Plant, which is spread across approximately four acres, expected to provide over 40 percent of the facility's electricity annually, and was one of 17 solar photovoltaic (PV) projects at water and wastewater treatment plants funded with over $20 million in federal Recovery grants invested by EEA's Department of Environmental Protection.
"Our programs and policies under the Patrick-Murray Administration jump-started the solar industry in Massachusetts, adding jobs and retraining workers to be competitive in the clean tech sector, as well as making solar PV installations commonplace across the Commonwealth," said DOER Commissioner Mark Sylvia. "Now everyone - including our children, who are the clean energy leaders of the future - appreciate how we are creating clean energy from the sun."
"The growth we've seen in solar in Massachusetts is due in large part to the forward thinking clean energy policies enacted by our leaders in the Patrick-Murray Administration and the Massachusetts Legislature," said MassCEC Executive Director Patrick Cloney. "With supportive policies in place and innovative programs like the Commonwealth Solar Rebate Program and Solarize Massachusetts spurring growth in the solar sector, we are one step closer to making clean energy a marquee industry in Massachusetts, like life sciences, IT and financial services."
Catalyzing the Commonwealth's solar revolution is a portfolio of programs and policies championed by the Patrick-Murray Administration, and made possible through effective partnerships between the Administration, the Legislature, the federal government through ARRA, and the private sector. Among the highlights of this portfolio was the enactment in 2008 of several landmark clean energy bills, including the Green Communities Act, which provided incentives for development and deployment of renewable energy, and the Global Warming Solutions Act, under which the Commonwealth will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.
As a result of the MassCEC's Commonwealth Solar rebate programs launched in 2008 and ARRA funding for solar on water treatment facilities and other public buildings, Massachusetts saw a 20-fold increase in solar PV installations between 2007 and 2010. The Commonwealth is continuing that momentum with the help of DOER's Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) program launched last year, and Solarize Massachusetts, a pilot announced by MassCEC and DOER in April to reduce costs and boost installation of solar power through an innovative new business model that leverages education, grassroots marketing, and group purchasing to accelerate the adoption of solar PV.
"I believe it's only fitting that today we highlight the exceptional solar projects Massachusetts has invested in," said Senator Marc R. Pacheco, Chair of the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change. "I applaud the Patrick-Murray Administration's dedication to increasing solar energy projects in the Commonwealth. Without their tremendous support, solar projects like the one at the Edgewood Bogs in Carver would not have been possible."
"Thanks to projects like this, Pittsfield is, and will remain, the solar capital of the Commonwealth," said Senator Benjamin B. Downing, Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy. "I am proud of this distinction, and look forward to the fall when the city's ambitious solar project at the Wastewater Treatment Plant comes online. This 1.58 MW project will provide more than 40 percent of the facility's electricity annually, saving Pittsfield precious dollars."
"Sutton schools are to be commended for their leadership in linking learning with the importance of solving America's dependence on foreign oil," said Sen. Richard T. Moore. "The solar project at the Simonian Early Learning Center offers a genuine 'teachable moment' for students and the community. I hope more schools will explore this energy and education option."
"The Simonian Early Learning Center project demonstrates good government in action, saving the town of Sutton money by reducing energy costs," said Representative Ryan Fattman. "I am happy to have been a part of this project as both a Sutton Selectman, and now the state representative, so that we can focus monies on educating children instead of paying energy costs."
"Solar energy needs to be an important component of a diverse energy portfolio in Massachusetts so that we can reduce our reliance on foreign energy sources, improve our environment for future generations, and create local jobs that will remain within the Commonwealth," said Rep. Paul Mark. "I applaud the Governor and Secretary for their efforts to promote solar energy throughout the entire state."
"This is another great example of utilizing one of our greatest natural resources for renewable clean energy. I commend Mr. Rhodes of Edgewood Bogs for his innovation and forward thinking," said Rep. Susan Williams Gifford.Photos from the Boston event.