The projects are funded out of $185 million in federal stimulus funds awarded to Massachusetts by US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson in June to finance 127 water and wastewater infrastructure projects through the State Revolving Fund (SRF) administered by MassDEP. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) requires that 20 percent of federal stimulus funds for SRF be used for “green infrastructure” improvements at water and wastewater treatment plants – facilities that account for nearly one-third of energy use by Massachusetts cities and towns.
“The energy consumed for drinking water and wastewater treatment plants is a huge drain on municipal budgets and a significant contributor to the carbon footprint of cities and towns,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles, whose office includes DOER and MassDEP. “The 12 solar PV projects we are putting out to bid will lower the long-term operating costs of these facilities, while creating local jobs and fostering expansion in the already burgeoning Massachusetts solar sector.”
Massachusetts is the first state to get US EPA approval to use SRF funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy activities and, in fact, the Obama Administration used the Commonwealth’s Energy Management Pilot as a model for its 20 percent green infrastructure requirement in the ARRA. DOER estimates that the solar projects will enable the 12 water and wastewater treatment facilities to cut their conventional energy use by approximately 4.5 million kilowatt hours annually – roughly equal to the energy needed to power 600 households per year – at an annual cost savings of almost $650,000.
The DOER is soliciting proposals for installation of solar power at municipal and regional facilities in Ashland, Hyannis, Chelmsford, Easton, Fairhaven, Falmouth, Holden, Marlborough, Blackstone/Millbury, East Freetown, Pittsfield, and Townsend. Earlier this year, the locations were approved for the state’s Intended Use Plan for SRF funding. In addition, many of the facilities worked with MassDEP and DOER last year in a collaborative Energy Management Pilot for water and wastewater treatment. Contract bids are due November 4. DOER then plans to select a contractor by the end of November, and execute contracts with program participants in mid-January 2010.
“The Department of Energy Resources is pleased to partner with cities and towns and regional treatment plants on projects that promise energy savings as well as significant environmental benefits, moving us closer to Governor Patrick’s goal of 250 megawatts of solar power in Massachusetts by 2017,” DOER Commissioner Phil Giudice said.
“MassDEP is thankful to the local officials operating these 12 facilities for participating in our innovative Energy Management Pilot program,” said MassDEP Commissioner Laurie Burt. “By taking the next step of solar PV installations, these facilities will reduce energy costs for ratepayers, as well as provide significant greenhouse gas emission reductions in the decades to come.”
Solar PV installations are slated for the following locations:
Ashland Howe Street Water Treatment Facility
Barnstable Wastewater Treatment Facility (Hyannis)
Chelmsford Crooked Spring Water Treatment Facility
Easton Water Division
Fairhaven Wastewater Plant
Falmouth Water Treatment Facility
Massachusetts Water Resources Authority Carroll Water Treatment Plant (Marlborough)
New Bedford Water Division Quittacas Water Plant (East Freetown)
Pittsfield Wastewater Treatment Plant
Townsend Water System
Upper Blackstone Wastewater Pollution Abatement District Regional Wastewater Plant (Blackstone and Millbury)
Worcester Water Filtration Plant (Holden)
“Massachusetts continues to innovate in solar power and energy efficiency and these investments will mean lower utility bills, decreases in greenhouse gas emissions, and cleaner, safer water,” said US Senator John Kerry.
“In crafting the stimulus plan, the Massachusetts delegation made clean energy funding a top priority,” said U.S. Rep. Bill Delahunt. “Placing solar panels and wind turbines at water and wastewater facilities will help taxpayers by reducing energy costs to local government, create jobs and boost the emerging clean energy industry.”
“I’m pleased to see that facilities in Holden, Marlborough, and Ashland will be receiving this stimulus funding,” said U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern. “These clean energy projects will create jobs and provide a boost to the solar industry in Massachusetts. In addition, the long-term utility costs for these facilities will be lower.”
'The funds being released today for green infrastructure projects in our communities will reduce energy costs at public facilities, while creating local construction jobs,' said U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas. 'I thank Governor Patrick for his ongoing efforts to expand the Commonwealth's clean energy portfolio.'
The bid solicitation announced today is part of the Patrick Administration’s Massachusetts Solar Stimulus program – a plan to use ARRA funding to expand the Commonwealth’s complement of clean solar power by up to 13 MW. In addition to the water and wastewater treatment facility projects, plans are underway to install solar PV at a variety of public facilities across the state including colleges, housing projects, and transportation facilities.
Massachusetts had approximately 4 MW of installed solar power when Governor Patrick took office, compared with 12.7 MW today. In addition to the 4 MW on tap at the water and wastewater treatment plants, more than 7 MW are in the pipeline but not yet installed through the Commonwealth Solar rebate program.
The Patrick Administration’s emphasis on solar power is having a healthy impact on the Commonwealth’s solar power industry. Since the launch of Commonwealth Solar in January 2008, the number of installation contractors and subcontractors has quadrupled, from roughly 50 to nearly 200. And a recent survey of 98 solar PV manufacturers, integrators and installers revealed that they doubled their Massachusetts employment – 1,086 to 2,075 – from 2007 to 2008, and expect to add another 960 employees in 2009. Eighty percent of these firms added employees in 2008, and all but 11 expect to expand their workforce this year.