North Adams Solar Landfill Now Powering City Buildings, Streetlights, Skating Rink

Published in Mass Live

North Adams Solar Landfill Now Powering City Buildings, Streetlights, Skating Rink

NORTH ADAMS — This small city in Berkshire County is the latest to install a solar farm on its capped, former landfill.

At a Sept. 8 celebration, Mayor Richard Alcombright cut an electric cord, instead of a ribbon, on the 3.5 MW solar array. The array, along with two other 650 kilowatt systems, is expected to save local taxpayers $400,000 a year.

The three systems will offset all the power used by the city’s municipal buildings and infrastructure, including City Hall, the library, street lights, schools, and a state-owned, city-operated skating rink, according to the online news site iBerkshires.

“This will, hopefully, make this city 100 percent solar powered,” Alcombright said.

The city will buy power at a low, set cost through a 20-year agreement with Syncarpha Capital. Borrego Solar will pay $12,000 a year to lease the land for the facility, which covers 14 acres.

Dan Burgess, deputy commissioner of the Dept. of Energy Resources, was on hand for the event. Massachusetts now has around 900 megawatts of solar, said Burgess, and is aiming for 1,600 megawatts by 2020.

Sen. Benjamin Downing (D-Pittsfield) said policies begun under former Governor Deval Patrick helped bring the project to fruition. Downing in July introduced an amendment that would lift the cap on net metering; the House will now take up its own energy bill. Net metering allows solar arrays to sell electricity back to the grid.

Governor Charlie Baker introduced solar legislation in August that would ease the net metering cap by 2 percent, allowing more solar arrays to come on line. Baker has said he wants to protect ratepayers as well as provide long-term stability to the maturing solar industry.

The North Adams solar array, one of the largest on a Massachusetts capped landfill, took years to come to fruition, iBerkshires reports.