State, town and school officials in Massachusetts joined Ameresco in celebrating the ribbon cutting on the first two phases of a US$6.05 million multi-phase solar initiative. The ceremony was held at Wilson Middle school, which now boasts a solar kiosk thanks to the installation by Ameresco. Similar solar installations are taking place at Kennedy Middle School, Bennett-Hemenway Elementary School, Natick High School, Memorial Elementary School and the Natick Community Senior centre.
The first two phases of the solar initiative are expected to offset Natick’s schools energy use by 46%. The organizations noted that the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) provide US$74,000 to help cover the cost of the PV system on the Kennedy Middle School roof. The first two phases are anticipated to generate nearly 734.6kW of electricity. Upon completion of the third phase, the project will produce a total of 1.08MW of power.
“Natick’s solar energy investments make a significant contribution to Massachusetts’ clean energy revolution, which aims to reach Governor Patrick’s goal of installing 250MW of solar energy by 2017,” said Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Mark Sylvia. “As one of the state’s 86 Green Communities, Natick continues to demonstrate that adopting renewable energy keeps more municipal energy dollars in the community, employs clean energy workers, and provides a scientific learning tool for Natick’s students.”
Natick entered into a PPA with Ameresco, which will see the town buy the power produced from the solar systems at a lower rate than it currently pays for electricity. Ameresco also noted that keeping in the theme of education, it will install various educational tools for the students, including a large-screen LCD television in each of the lobbies that will show real-time performance data and the associated environmental benefits from the solar panels.
Additionally, as part of the data acquisition system, Ameresco set up a web page for an online display of the rooftop weather station data and solar PV electricity output that both students and teachers can use. Furthermore, the company intends to start a summer internship at its Framingham, Massachusetts office for a graduating senior from Natick High School who is interested in energy efficiency and renewable energy.