Six megawatt solar array up and running at former Palmer Municipal Airfield
A six-megawatt solar array on the former Palmer Metropolitan Airfield is now up and running, providing energy savings to the towns of Leicester and Spencer and to Worcester State University.
The project, expected to generate enough electricity for 1,000 homes and offset 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually, will also pay $2 million in taxes to the town of Palmer over 20 years.
It’s the first and largest such facility to be built through a state program that incentivizes development of solar on landfills and brownfields. The Solar Renewable Energy Credit II program was designed to promote the re-use of sites cleaned up under Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection supervision.
The Palmer Airfield was cleaned up after 75 years of operations dating back to the 1920s, and “is a perfect example of what SREC II was designed to achieve as far as siting large-scale solar at appropriate locations around the Commonwealth,” said the developers.
The facility, built by Borrego Solar, is financed, owned and operated by Syncarpha Capital. Land owner JenJill LLC of Wilbraham purchased the site and paid for its cleanup, and will benefit from the long-term ground lease.
Renewable Energy Massachusetts, a limited liability company, secured site control and negotiated the lease, took care of permitting, initiated the National Grid interconnection process, cemented Worcester State University as a key energy off-taker, and secured qualification from the Dept. of Energy Resources for the solar renewable energy credits.
The company is leasing 105 acres at the former airport, and will use about 22 acres to construct solar panels.
“We are proud of what has been accomplished at the Airfield property and how much good has come out of this project,” said Brian Kopperl, managing partner of REM. He said National Grid customers will benefit from grid and substation upgrades paid for by the project, and that solar energy sold to National Grid for the next 30 years will help them satisfy their clean power obligations under the Green Communities Act of 2008.
Palmer last year also signed a lease with Syncarpha to build a five-megawatt array at the town’s former landfill.