Solar PV Installed at Park Stimulates Renewable Energy in Region

One of Western Massachusetts’ largest solar panel projects is complete and operational on a rooftop at the Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) Technology Park. The 30 kW photovoltaic (PV) installation has 108 solar panels, which will assist the growing energy needs for the facility through the use of renewable resources, generating more than 33,000-kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year.

The installation is expected to save the Park more than $5,800 annually in energy costs as well as stimulate the growth of the region’s renewable energy industry. “This is a major initiative for the Technology Park, building on our base of telecommunications companies and adding a new focus on renewable energy,” said Brian Q. Corridan, Chairman of the STCC Assistance Corporation. “We may also either attract or establish a PV/renewable energy training center at the Park.” Corridan said that the Technology Park is seeking additional tenant companies who are in the renewable energy business. The $255,000 project is the result of a $123,000 grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC), sought jointly by the STCC Assistance Corporation, which owns and operates the STCC Technology Park; Appleton Corporation, the management company for the Technology Park; and Western Massachusetts Electric Company (WMECO), the administrative offices that are located in the Park. MTC is a public agency of the Commonwealth, and administrator of the Renewable Energy Trust. The STCC Technology Park has reserved the remaining funds for the project. “Over the 35-year lifetime of this PV installation, the 30 kW solar electric system will replace the energy equivalent of 150 tons of coal or 31,000 gallons of gasoline and avoids 756 tons of carbon dioxide emissions,” said Rodney Powell, president and COO of WMECO. “Photovoltaics produce clean, free energy. Because climate change, air pollution, and depletion of natural resources are some of the most significant problems facing the world today, we’re excited about implementing this progressive approach to using clean, renewable energy at the Technology Park.” The PV installation could become a teaching and demonstration center for renewable energy in the northeast United States by collaborating with STCC’s academic programs, workforce training and business incubation facilities. “We are planning on reviving our Environmental Technology associate degree program, with a focus on clean water or wastewater management, at the request of regional industry, and plan to include options to that program in renewable energy, such as solar energy,” said Ira H. Rubenzahl, STCC President. “There are also opportunities for initiating workforce development partnerships and training within the renewable energy industry,” said Rubenzahl. “For instance, our Center for Business and Technology is talking with the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, which offers a certification exam for PV installers.” The project used local contractors, selecting Massachusetts businesses to create and install the PV system. Chris Derby Kilfoyle, president of Berkshire Photovoltaic Services in Adams, Mass. functioned as general contractor for the project. The solar modules are manufactured in Billerica, Mass., by Schott Solar, Inc. The power electronics, which handle the solar electricity transmission to the facility, are manufactured by Solectria Renewables of Lawrence, Mass. The design and construction team also included New Energy Options, Inc. of Littleton, Mass., and David Bixby Architects of West Stockbridge, Mass.
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