News Briefs: Williams College, Williamstown to build solar array; Harrington prioritizes environment issues
Williams College, Williamstown to build solar array
Williamstown — Williams College and the Town of Williamstown have signed an agreement that moves forward a previously stalled solar energy project that will provide low-cost, renewable energy to town facilities, the fire district, and the regional school district.
Under the terms of the agreement, Williams will invest approximately $6 million to complete construction of a 1.9-megawatt solar array on the capped town landfill on Simonds Road. The town began the project in 2014 with a commercial developer but, after initial designs and studies were completed, the need for major infrastructure upgrades rendered the project economically unfeasible for the developer.
Williams will provide the initial $6 million investment to construct the project. The college is seeking a tax equity partner that would co-own the solar array and provide $2 million toward the project during the final stages of construction. Williamstown will use energy from the array to power all of its municipal buildings and the fire district building and streetlights, as well as facilities of the regional school district. The discounted clean power will provide both savings and price stability to the town’s energy budget by locking in a long-term price for electricity at less than half the price the town currently pays. The town will also receive no fewer than 20 years of structured property tax revenue from the landfill, a property that otherwise generates no tax revenue for the community.
The project aligns with the College’s climate change response plan goals to support local and regional renewable energy projects.
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Harrington prioritizes environmental protection, sustainability issues
Pittsfield — Andrea Harrington, a local attorney and small business owner running in the Democratic Primary for State Senate, has released a comprehensive environmental plan aimed at promoting sustainability and addressing climate change. Harrington has been an outspoken critic of the fracked gas pipeline proposed by Kinder Morgan and General Electric‘s (GE) proposed expansion of toxic waste dumps in the Berkshires. As State Senator, Harrington will request an appointment to the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change and the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy (currently chaired by State Sen. Ben Downing).
Harrington’s plan includes:
- Continuing to oppose the proposed construction of new fracked gas pipelines throughout Massachusetts and opposing surcharges to be levied on taxpayers for new gas infrastructure.
- Advocating lifting the cap on solar net metering to create green jobs and support the use of more renewable energy.
- Strongly opposing GE’s proposed creation of toxic waste dumps for PCB-contaminated soil in the Berkshires.
- Supporting the creation of grants that fund energy audits and retrofit schools and municipal buildings.
- Working with the Congressional delegation and MassDEP to continue the push to clean up brownfield and superfund sites.
- Creating tax credits to encourage and further enable small businesses to increase energy efficiency and promote commercial recycling and composting.
- Continuing to advocate for GE to perform a fully comprehensive clean up of the Housatonic River basin and related sites as outlined by the EPA.
- Holding regular meetings with local conservation commissioners, selectmen, and nonprofit organizations across the district to develop important regional relationships.
- Embracing comprehensive energy legislation that will make Massachusetts a national and international leader in sustainability, carbon emission reduction and green job creation.
- Creating partnerships between businesses and local job training programs and vocational schools to give the workforce access to the green economy.
- Fully funding state agencies and programs that maintain and provide access to green and open spaces.