News Brief: Williamstown goes green with solar array partnership

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By Wednesday, Nov 29 News

Williamstown, Williams College solar array complete

Williamstown — The Williamstown solar array, a partnership between Williams College and Williamstown, is now connected to the grid and will be fully operational by the end of the year. The array will provide power for the town’s municipal buildings, the fire district building and streetlights, and the facilities for the regional school district.

Williamstown began the project in 2014 with a commercial developer. When the financing landscape changed, that developer backed out. Fortunately, college representatives learned about the project from Williamstown’s town manager Jason Hoch. After a thorough analysis, the college decided to partner with the town as part of its sustainability commitment.

The 1.9-megawatt solar array is located on the capped town landfill on Simonds Road and, over a 20-year period, is expected to yield at least $5 million in electricity savings and renewable-energy tax credits. Funding from Williams and investing partner Firstar paid for construction of the array, including connection to the grid as well as necessary upgrades to National Grid infrastructure to make connection possible.

The solar array represents the town’s first major renewable energy project. “This was land we used to have to environmentally monitor, and now we’re freeing up money and we get a structured tax credit for the green use,” Hoch said. The town hopes to put some of the money saved toward other projects such as a new police station and more green power.

According to Matt Sheehy, Williams’ associate vice president for finance and administration, the partnership is an impact investment: although the college will not directly benefit from the array, the college’s involvement aligns with its goal to support local and regional renewable energy projects.

The project also benefitted local firms, developers and businesses. EOS Ventures of Hancock, which has experience developing and financing renewable energy projects throughout the region, served as development consultant for the project. APIS Energy of Great Barrington oversaw all the construction for the project, and NorthRenew Energy of Great Barrington oversaw finances. Seth Ginsberg, president and managing partner at APIS, was the director of construction and project manager. Electrical work, excavation and equipment were all sourced from the greater Berkshire area.

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