For Immediate Release - June 25, 2014

‘Summer Solstice Solar Tour’ Highlights Patrick Administration and Community Partnerships in Converting Environmental Liabilities into Solar Farms

EASTHAMPTON – Friday, June 20, 2014 - Massachusetts energy and environmental officials today toured an Easthampton landfill and a Pittsfield wastewater treatment plant as part of a six-stop tour across the Commonwealth aimed at highlighting the Patrick Administration’s solar energy accomplishments.

The state’s comprehensive solar policies have led to growing deployment of solar power at homes, businesses, schools, parking lots and elsewhere. There is at least one solar installation in 350 of the 351 communities across the Commonwealth, totaling more than 518 megawatts (MW), which is enough electricity to power nearly 79,000 homes.

“Massachusetts is a national clean energy leader, and solar power is a key element in our strategy to move away from polluting fossil fuels,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett. “Thanks to the vision of Governor Patrick, we continue to shape our energy future rather than leave it to chance.”

Today’s Summer Solstice Solar Tour is focused on solar deployment at landfills and Brownfields, as well as wastewater and drinking water facilities. The Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), Department of Energy Resources (DOER) and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) have teamed up and worked with municipalities to help convert landfills and Brownfields into solar energy projects, reducing emissions and lowering energy costs.

MassDEP Commissioner David W. Cash and DOER Commissioner Mark Sylvia are leading the solar tour to mark tomorrow’s Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. The tour is making stops in Chatham, Barnstable, Pembroke, Worcester, Easthampton and Pittsfield, touting the installation of more than 10 MWs of solar power on former landfills, and at wastewater treatment plants and drinking water facilities in those communities.

The Easthampton Landfill was one of the Commonwealth’s first solar-on-landfill facilities to open in 2012. The site features 2.3 MWs of solar PV on 11 acres.

The Pittsfield Wastewater Treatment Plant is home to 1.574 MW of solar. Thanks to an upgraded anaerobic digestion system for sludge that will provide combined heat and power at the plant and an energy efficiency upgrade to the aeration system, the city saved $353,400 in costs last year and cut 1,200 tons of carbon dioxide.

“Solar energy at these sites lower energy costs for cities and towns and provides a revenue stream that can be used for municipal priorities, like hiring new teachers or providing essential services,” said DOER Commissioner Sylvia. “In addition, these projects grow clean energy jobs, as the installation and construction cannot be out-sourced.”

“Landfills are the perfect sites for solar installations and these projects provide multiple ‘wins’ for all parties involved,” said MassDEP Commissioner Cash. “We turn an environmental bad into an environmental good, as solar power helps to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, cuts greenhouse gas emissions and helps to clean the air, and produces cheap energy that can be utilized by the local community.”

“The solar boom in Massachusetts has brought the Commonwealth major environmental benefits, but economic ones as well – more than 8,400 Massachusetts workers spend half their time on solar activities,” said MassCEC CEO Alicia Barton.

As part of MassDEP’s Solar-on-Landfill program, 47 closed landfills have been permitted to install solar PV systems; 21 systems are now operating and generating more than 41 MWs of energy, 15 additional sites are under construction and nine other sites are in the early planning stages. Under DOER’s recently launched Solar Carve-Out II (SREC II) Program, landfills are able to generate more solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs) than most non-landfill projects, which helps continue and expand the opportunities available for installing solar at landfills. For a list of the Commonwealth’s solar initiatives, please see attached.

“Solar power represents a critical piece of our Commonwealth’s clean energy future.  As we rapidly move toward our goal of 1,600 megawatts of solar power generation in the state by 2020, with 518 installed megawatts already, I am pleased that the administration remains dedicated to this invaluable resource,” said Senator Marc R. Pacheco, Senate Chairman of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. “As I have stated repeatedly, solar energy remains one of the Commonwealth’s best opportunities to green up the bottom line.”

“I commend the Governor, DOER and DEP on their achievements developing solar throughout the Commonwealth,” said Representative John D. Keenan, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy. “Solar energy can be a cost effective solution for meeting our distributed energy generation needs, especially at some of the Commonwealth’s most distressed sites.”      

The Patrick Administration’s aggressive clean energy initiatives have made Massachusetts a leader in energy efficiency, renewable energy and emissions reductions. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has named Massachusetts number one for three years running. In 2013, Massachusetts met Governor Patrick’s initial goal of 250 megawatts four years early. The clean energy revolution is yielding economic benefits as well, with 11.8 percent job growth in the last year and 24 percent growth in the last two years; nearly 80,000 people are employed in the clean tech industry in Massachusetts.