The construction of two new solar arrays is underway after groundbreakings in Edgartown and Vineyard Haven.
The Cape and Vineyard Electrical Compact broke ground on an array at the Farm Institute in Katama on the first snowy day of the year. And soon after, CVEC representatives and the town of Tisbury formally began the first capped landfill project on the Vineyard.
The Katama and Tisbury projects are two of eight in CVEC’s round one initiative, which when completed will produce a total of 16 megawatts in solar energy to be used by seven municipalities across the Cape and the Vineyard. The round one projects are set to be completed by June 2014, CVEC president John Checklick said at the Tisbury groundbreaking. CVEC members and representatives from the project developer and builder American Capital Energy attended. Tisbury selectmen Jeffrey Kristal and Tristan Israel thanked residents whose efforts helped the town achieve its solar goal, including town representative Bill Straw, county representative Peter Cabana, and Chris Fried, Peter Goodale, Mary Ellen Larsen and Henry Stephenson,
The town’s capped landfill is near the Park and Ride lot. The array will produce 1.2 megawatts of energy. Mr. Checklick said it would save the town more than $78,000 in electricity costs in the first year of operation, and approximately $2.3 million over 20 years.
The landfill project has seen setbacks since the first RFP was issued three years ago to American Capital Energy.
“We anticipated getting this done rapidly,” Bill Fitzpatrick of ACE said. “It’s not easy to put solar on landfills.” Despite capped landfills being an ideal location for solar projects, since they cannot be used for other building purposes, Mr. Fitzpatrick said the project nevertheless ran into delays while working through legal matters, obtaining NStar permits and navigating the Massachusetts solar renewable energy credit (SREC) system.
“It ran the gamut,” he said.
Mr. Israel recounted that alternative energy efforts began in Tisbury about 12 years ago, when the town looked into wind power. Over time, solar came to be the more feasible model.
“We want to see this facility operating, we want to set an example, and we want to save some money,” he said.