Town and Water Department Win with New Offsite Solar Facility

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Massachusetts has been a closely watched state with its attempted legislation which would have greatly reworked solar policy in the state. While the legislation was only able to pass in a watered-down form, it still has provided incentives for the continued adoption of solar in the state.

Empower Energies, Inc., is taking advantage of this and has announced the completion and commissioning of a 3.7 MW solar array in the Town of Shirley, Massachusetts. The ground-mounted installation features 13,047 PV panels, situated on 27 acres of Shirley Water District land.

The project was co-developed with Washington, DC-based EPG Solar. It is expected to deliver over 4.9 million kWh of electricity annually to the contiguous Devens Utilities Department, and significantly increase the renewable energy contribution to the MassDevelopment subsidiary’s energy portfolio.

Jim Moore of the Devens Utilities Department noted that MassDevelopment was originally looking to add renewable energy into their portfolio with facilities built behind their meter, but ultimately opened the bidding up to power supply coming in from outside Devens, “if someone could work out the details.”

Empower Energies Manager of Business Development Micah Stanley credited the ingenuity of Robert Babcock, a Managing Partner with EPG Solar, and his team, for initiating the project. “His inventiveness enabled us, essentially, to put two separate and distinct projects together, and then enabled us to cross utility grid lines,” Stanley said.

“From the beginning, this project has been a model of perseverance and creativity for all of the parties involved,” Babcock said. “We worked diligently in cooperation with all of the constituencies — the Town of Shirley Energy Committee, the Water District, and the Devens Utilities Department — to best represent the interests of the people they serve.”

“It is exciting and humbling to ‘flip the switch’ after so many moving parts have come together,” said Len Jornlin, CEO of Empower Energies. “Projects like this one are characterized by a complex set of transactions, and the collaboration of so many stakeholders. We were thrilled to serve as the hub of all this effort. It enabled us to connect the dots, and help our co-developer, EPG Solar, to get the project over the finish line for Green States Energy and the Town of Shirley.”

“This facility is the culmination of two years of work involving multiple agencies and municipal entities, with everyone striving toward one common goal: To take care of the residents in the community,” said Town of Shirley Energy Committee Chairman Bryan Dumont. “The result is that the Shirley Water District is going to generate revenue which is going to help them offset expenses, and the town is going to do the same thing.

The solar facility will provide a revenue stream to the water district through a land lease, and to the Town of Shirley in the form of an annual tax payment. The 20-year agreement also has a 10-year renewable option.

Empower Energies and EPG Solar selected Green States Energy, Inc., to be the investor/owner of the solar system.

“What a great fit this is for us,” said Stephen Clevett, CEO of Green States Energy. “As an owner and operator of clean electric generation plants, of course it is our objective is to build our asset base. And this project is perfectly scaled for our growth strategy at this particular point in time. But we also want to work with customers and partners who share our values, and are moving forward for the right reasons. We found that here, and we look forward to being part of the Shirley and Devens communities for years to come.”