UMass Boston To Save Up To $5M With Solar Contract
A new 3.9 MW solar installation built atop Boston Business Park is expected to help the University of Massachusetts, Boston (UMass Boston) avoid up to $5 million in energy costs over the next 20 years through virtual net metering, according to Borrego Solar Systems.
National Development, Altus Power America and Borrego have announced the completion of the large rooftop solar array at Boston Business Park, which straddles the Boston/Dedham line and is home to several warehousing and distribution companies. The solar project is expected to generate 4.8 million kWh of energy annually.
“We were thrilled to work with Altus Power and Borrego Solar on such a landmark installation – one of the largest solar installations in New England – which not only adds a great deal to the property but, more importantly, fulfills a major goal of National Development to make our buildings as sustainable as they can be while being innovative in the process,” says Andrew Gallinaro, senior vice president of asset management at National Development, which owns Boston Business Park.
Altus Power owns the solar installation and will sell the energy produced to UMass Boston through a net-metering credit purchase agreement. Virtual net metering is a utility billing mechanism that enables the off-taker to receive energy credits on its utility bill from a remotely located installation.
“Powering up this solar system and starting to deliver clean energy savings to UMass Boston marks an important milestone for Altus Power and our development, construction and real estate partners,” says Gregg Felton, managing partner of Altus Power.
Borrego Solar built and developed the array, and Jared Connell, the company’s Massachusetts director of project development, states, “This project demonstrates the remarkable evolution of Massachusetts’ solar market. When we began developing and installing solar here in 2007, there were only 3 MW of operational solar plants and virtual net metering had just been enacted. We’re now able to cost-effectively construct massive rooftop projects that provide significant economic and environmental benefits for all stakeholders.”
Competitive Energy Services (CES) advised UMass Boston on this solar project. “CES has assisted UMass Boston with energy-related issues since 2011,” explains Zac Bloom, director of sustainability for CES. “The five UMass system campuses combined are the largest off-takers of virtual net-metering credits in the commonwealth, and the 3.9 MW solar array at the Boston Business Park will be one of the final PV systems installed in their portfolio, bringing their total off-take to about 50 MW.”
Bloom adds, “The solar array will provide important financial savings to the university, and UMass is thrilled to help yet another solar project reach commercial operations in Massachusetts.”
S-5! Clamps Secure Panels For Congregation Project
Utility costs in Hawaii are among the highest in the U.S., so it’s not uncommon to see solar panels installed as part of larger projects in order to take advantage of the state’s plentiful sunshine. After repairing a 30-year-old standing seam roof, the Word of Life Christian Center in Honolulu installed an 82 kW solar array, attached with clamps from S-5!
To cover the cost of the roof repairs, as well as the crystalline solar panels, the Word of Life Christian Center entered into a power purchase agreement under which any unused electricity is sold back to the local power company. This required no money down and allowed the congregation to save money from day one. The solar system consists of 241 340-W P17 modules from SunPower, each secured with Mini Clamps from S-5! Almost 50% of the roof is covered with solar panels, and the system is projected to produce 124.9 MWh in the first year.
“After the roofing work was completed, we installed the solar panels in three different portions of the roof,” explains Kurt Blum, project manager for installer Hi-Power Solar. “They were mostly southwest and southeast facing, but there was also a northwest-facing roof.”
Blum adds, “It was a pretty straightforward install. We had to work around some HVAC equipment, but that’s on almost every job. We used the S-5! clamps because they’re easy to work with and they don’t penetrate the roof. The roofer was on-site a couple times, making sure we weren’t messing up his work.”
Blum says the aluminum S-5! clamps stand up to the salty air of the island, and before any installation, the roofer coated the entire standing seam roof and gutter system with Gaco Roof Coating to improve water tightness. The solar panels were attached with approximately 450 S-5-U Mini Clamps with the DualRack Standard Rail. “Hawaii occasionally has some hurricane-force winds, so it’s important to have a properly engineered system,” concludes Blum.
GE Unit Builds Solar Throughout Northeast
Through its Current subsidiary, General Electric (GE) has been building solar projects both for itself and for a diverse range of customers in the U.S. Northeast. The global conglomerate first established Boston-based Current in late 2015 as a start-up unit to integrate GE’s solar, energy storage, LED and electric vehicle businesses. According to GE, Current now has a solar project portfolio of more than 17 MW. That includes a mix of solar carport and ground-mount projects under way or completed in several northeastern states.
“The clean energy movement continues to surge ahead, and businesses all over the Northeast are leading the charge, including right here at GE,” says Erik Schiemann, general manager of solar at Current. “Smart companies are realizing that solar isn’t just good for the environment, but it can help their bottom lines, too.”
GE says it has invested in on-site solar installations through Current at eight of the parent company’s own regional facilities, including in Bridgeport, Conn.; Lynn, Mass.; Marlborough, Mass.; Billerica, Mass.; Hooksett, N.H.; Schenectady, N.Y.; North Greenbush, N.Y.; and Rutland, Vt. These installations add up to more than 9.4 MW in solar carport and ground-mount power for a total savings of more than $13.8 million across the sites, according to GE.
In addition to the projects at GE facilities, Current is working on or has recently completed solar installations for outside customers in the Northeast, including the following:
• Partners Healthcare’s Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Cape Cod in Sandwich, Mass., will debut a 1.1 MW carport and ground-mount installation that will produce the equivalent of 70% of the hospital’s electricity consumption. The healthcare provider is also installing two carports at its Newton-Wellesley Hospital facility, which will save more than $4.4 million in energy costs.
• Life care provider Seabury has installed solar ground-mount solutions to save more than $600,000 at its Life Plan community in Bloomfield, Conn.
• Smith & Wesson’s new 2.6 MW solar carport project at its Springfield, Mass., industrial facility will provide approximately 10% of the site’s energy needs and offers a lifetime savings estimated at $2.8 million. The site also upgraded its lighting to more efficient LEDs from Current, further reducing energy consumption and energy costs.
• The Town of Wallkill, N.Y., commissioned a 2.4 MW solar plant on a capped landfill, which will provide more than $2 million in savings.
East Windsor Township Flips Switch On Project
Officials in East Windsor Township, N.J., recently completed a new solar project at the township’s police/court building. According to a press release, the 448 kW solar array is located to the rear of the municipal building on land donated to the township for this purpose by McGraw Hill.
Mayor Janice S. Mironov explains, “The solar array is designed to generate 577,093 kWh of electricity annually, offsetting nearly 100 percent of the police/court building’s energy use and resulting in a savings to the township of approximately $527,933 over the 15-year term of the agreement. The township selected this site noting it is the most energy-intensive municipal building user, as it operates on a 24/7 basis and, therefore, provides the greatest opportunity to realize financial savings.”
Mironov adds, “This project, completed at no cost to our taxpayers and delivering more than a half-million-dollar cost reduction, is a prime example of ‘going green and saving green.’”
Under the terms of a power purchase agreement (PPA), East Windsor will pay the project owner $0.0585/kWh, approximately half of the rate the township currently pays to Jersey Central Power & Light. After the initial 15-year period, the township retains the option to renew the agreement for two additional terms of five years each. If the township chooses to extend the PPA, savings to East Windsor taxpayers could exceed $1 million.