Solar in the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin, and Hampden District with Senator Adam Hinds

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SEBANE thanks Senator Adam Hinds for participating in our fifth legislative solar tour with member companies PV Squared, Sunpin Solar, and Solect Energy. Solar installers and customers in Western Massachusetts met with Senator Hinds on Wednesday, May 29.

“As we look ahead to expansion of the SMART solar incentive program in MA, I had an incredibly valuable tour of solar installations around Berkshire County today,” Senator Hinds posted on his Facebook. “We have seen ‘starts and stops’ in the solar industry as a result of Massachusetts policies and regulations, which costs jobs and the development of renewable energy. I know we can do better here.”

PV Squared kicked off the tour by welcoming Senator Hinds to their array at Highland Woods in Williamstown, MA. Owned and operated by Fitchburg, MA based Cedar Energy Investors, Highland Woods receives 100% of the net metering credits generated by the solar array, which they purchase from Cedar Energy at a fixed rate of $0.16 per kWh. This represents an average savings of about 20%, or about $7,000 per year, compared to electricity purchased from the utility. 

The Senator next visited another PV Squared install down the street at the Williamstown Youth Center. This solar project is a behind-the-meter, net metering facility owned directly by the Center. The project was installed shortly after the building was newly constructed in 2015, and solar was part of the original design concept for the building.

NECEC’s Dan Bosley was kind enough to accompany SEBANE member companies on the tour. He noted, “The Youth Center was saving $20,000 per year in electric costs. From the beginning, this has saved the center money.”

Third on the tour was the East Acres solar farm, installed by Sunpin Solar for NuGen Capital in Pittsfield, MA. The facility is located on 77 acres of retired campgrounds previously operated by the Young Men’s Christian Association, adaptively reusing this land to generate clean electricity. This install’s 4,397 kW capacity not only reduces energy costs for residents of Massachusetts, but also generates revenue at approximately $285 per SREC.

“We at NuGen appreciated Senator Hinds taking the time to get a better understanding of the current state of solar in MA,” said Aaron Rust, Director of Asset Management at NuGen Capital.

Lastly, Senator Hinds stopped at Solect Energy’s installation for Pittsfield Lawn and Tractor, which started as a specialty shop in 1986. Overall, SEBANE estimates that over 80 projects and more than 30.62 MW have been installed in the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin, and Hampden district as of April 2019. This means that solar energy is an integral part Western MA’s strategy to reach emissions reduction and environmental protection goals.

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“The diversity of options and installations was instructional for the Senator. There were a couple of really good messages sent to him,” said Dan Bosley, Government Relations Executive at NECEC. “At the NuGen Capital site, it was pointed out that this site could not be built under proposed changes in the next iteration of SMART. The Senator expressed the need to consider these kinds of spaces in the future…There is nothing like going into the field for Legislators to actually see these sites.”

SEBANE extends gratitude to Senator Hinds, his staff, our member companies, and all tour participants for spending their afternoon discussing their motivations for and experiences with going solar, how solar is benefiting the Commonwealth, and how legislators can help the industry overcome some of its current challenges.

SEBANE’s goal across our Solar Tours Initiative is to meet legislators in their districts, share the benefits of solar to their local communities, and tell the stories of solar installers and customers. This tour is part of a continuing series across Massachusetts in both the State Senate and House of Representatives.


Joan Wilson