Massachusetts schools, town cut costs with brownfield solar project

Soltage Project at 200 Iron Horse Park, North Billerica, MA. (Photo By: Greg M. Cooper / Soltage LLC)

Soltage and independent power producer Tenaska have completed a 3.68-MW ground-mounted solar project in Billerica, Massachusetts.

The project is on a brownfield site and will generate 4,445 MWh of clean energy annually for four school systems and one local government through virtual net metering. Project offtakers include the Town of Barre, Mass., Tantasqua Regional School District, Wachusetts Regional School District, Ralph Mahar Regional School District and Petersham Center School. Power generated by the project’s 11,204 PV solar panels will supply an average of 20% of the offtakers’ electricity needs at costs below local utility rates and will offset nearly 6.9 million pounds of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of burning more than 3.3 million pounds of coal, annually.

Tenaska is the primary investor in the solar facility with Soltage acting as the power plant co-owner and operator, selling the electricity to the schools and town through 20-year net metering credit agreements. The project also qualifies for Massachusetts’ solar renewable energy credit II (SRECII) program – assisting the Commonwealth in meeting its renewable energy targets – receiving the thirdhighest incentive levels available under the program because it was developed on a brownfield.

“Our schools and local governments should never have to decide between rising electricity prices or expanding opportunities to those they serve,” said Jesse Grossman, Soltage co-founder and CEO. “Distributed solar projects like this create tangible benefits for energy purchasers by locking in electricity costs well below utility rates, as well as for the state and local communities by returning brownfield areas to productive use.”

Tenaska, one of America’s leading independent energy companies, is acting as the primary investor and will co-own the project as part of a portfolio investment it made with Soltage for new asset construction in late 2015.

“We are very pleased with the successful and timely completion of this second solar project in our distributed solar portfolio managed by Soltage,” said Tim Hemig, Tenaska Senior Vice President. “We think it is a significant win-win to generate clean, renewable solar power from brownfield sites like this one.”

The project is located on a 553-acre brownfield industrial complex which included manufacturing and rail yard maintenance facilities, open storage areas, landfills, and former wastewater lagoons all surrounded by residential properties and wetlands.

Soltage is a full-service renewable energy company developing, financing, installing, owning and operating solar power generating stations, providing electricity to C&I, educational, utility, and municipal customers. The company owns and operates more than 100 MW of generation capacity across eight states, and has now deployed more than $300 million since 2006.

Tenaska is consistently ranked by Forbes magazine as one of America’s largest privately held companies, with approximately 7,000 MW of power generating assets under management, including approximately 280 MW of utility-scale photovoltaic in operation.

Solar brownfield development is a particularly promising market, with more than 80,000 brownfields and contaminated lands pre-screened by the U.S. EPA for renewable energy development. Brownfields provide ideal locations for solar projects with flat, unshaded areas and proximity to grid infrastructure. Soltage also recently announced three landfill-sited solar projects in Massachusetts totaling 15 MW.

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