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Starting date for Scituate solar array delayed to June

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  November 27, 2012 01:16 PM

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Despite earlier forecasts that Scituate’s solar array would be up and running by December, the renewable-energy facility now isn’t expected to operating until June.

The timeline for the green energy source, which will be located on the town’s capped landfill, has been pushed back continually.

“They keep moving it back a little and a little,” said Director of Public Works Al Bangert. “I know it’s going to take about three months to finalize construction. They were talking about starting in December, but it’s almost December. It gets pushed back for various small reasons, though we do expect it to come online by June.”

According to Bangert, the June 15 deadline is a drop dead date for the engineers, who must have the array online by then or face damages of up to $300 a day from the town.

With that timeline in mind, National Grid sought and was granted a right of access by Scituate selectmen on Nov. 20, which will allow the company to put five poles with various switching gear and protective equipment on the site.

The power lines from the plant will then meet up with the solar company’s power lines to transfer the power.

The solar company, Brightfields Development LLC, is also conducting some last-minute financial preparation with the intention to start construction in the next couple of weeks.

“They can construct in the winter,” Bangert said.

Construction will consist of the installation of a fence around the area and the excavation of the first eight inches of soil to install the concrete base for the array racks.

The 20-year contract for the landfill is expected to produce 30 percent of the town’s electricity, supporting the schools, town buildings, sewer and water plants, and streetlights along with the town’s wind turbine.

According to Bangert, the array will save the town $160,000 annually for the first year, eventually working up to be a savings of $250,000 a year in the later end of the 20-year contract.

The town has been working toward installing a solar array on their landfill since 2010, when the town issued a contract to Brightfiields at the end of the year. Town Meeting also adopted a measure allowing for the lease of the land up to 25 years. Zoning bylaws were additionally changed to allow for the panels to go up.

While Bangert hasn’t heard of any controversy surrounding the array, he has heard a lot of interest.

“Everybody is interested and asks the same question. I don’t hear of any kind of backlash. Some people were concerned it will look like a row of mirrors, but it won't. It will be invisible on top of the landfill,” Bangert said.

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