PITTSFIELD - October 19, 2010 - Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Ian Bowles today joined Berkshire Community College officials and area legislators to mark the college's installation of 394 kilowatts (kW) of solar power. Spread across seven buildings, the Pittsfield campus's project is among the largest of 23 solar arrays at state buildings and facilities across the state recently completed or now underway with federal stimulus funding as part of Governor Deval Patrick's recovery plan to secure the state's economic future.
"Under Governor Patrick's leadership, Massachusetts is on track to increase installed solar power by a factor of 20 compared to four years ago," Secretary Bowles said. "Berkshire Community College's project - along with many others like it at state-owned facilities across the state - is part of a solar revolution that has nearly tripled the number of jobs in the Commonwealth's solar industry and catalyzed a more than six-fold increase in the number of Bay State firms involved in solar energy, while reducing our vulnerability to the price fluctuations and pollution associated with fossil fuel-powered electricity."
"We're excited that very soon we will be able to say that BCC is powered by the sun," said Dr. Paul Raverta, BCC President.
The Berkshire Community College project illustrates how the Patrick-Murray Administration's push for renewable energy is putting Massachusetts companies to work. Financed with $984,400 in federal funds available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and $758,388 in federal low-interest Clean Renewable Energy Bonds, the rooftop systems comprise inverters made by Solectria of Lawrence and panels from Evergreen Solar of Devens, which are being installed by Ostrow Electric of Worcester. Once complete later this fall, the system is expected to produce 440,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity - enough to supply over 20 percent of the school's demand.
"This investment in solar technology will keep Massachusetts on the cutting edge of energy innovation," said U.S. Senator John Kerry.
"These solar power projects will provide clean renewable energy that will improve the sustainability of these facilities," said Congressman Barney Frank. "This is yet another example of how the stimulus bill is providing jobs, improving our environment, and decreasing our dependence on fossil fuel."
"Expanding solar power in the state-funded facilities of Western Massachusetts - and across the state - is a huge step toward solidifying our region's position on the cutting edge of renewable energy technology," said Congressman John Olver. "I am particularly glad that these funds will primarily benefit our state colleges and universities, since they have done so much to promote the use of solar power and other efficient energy sources."
"Clean energy and education are key to the future of our economy - and here at Berkshire Community College, the future is now," said State Senator Benjamin B. Downing, who is Acting Chairman of the Joint Committee on Higher Education. "Every dollar that isn't spent on a utility bill by BCC is a dollar that can be spent in a classroom or on other upgrades. Once again, the Patrick-Murray Administration has kept its promise to invest in the whole state and to govern for the long term, and for that I thank them."
"I have always been a big proponent of solar energy and am very happy that BCC has been able to work with Secretary Bowles' office to get this project completed. Here in the 4th Berkshire we have made great progress over the past few years in reducing our carbon footprint by increasing energy efficiency and turning to sustainable energy to meet our power needs. I applaud BCC and the Patrick Administration for their leadership in this initiative," said State Representative William Smitty Pignatelli.
The solar-on-state-owned-buildings effort is part of Governor Patrick's Leading by Example (LBE) program. Established by an April 2007 Executive Order, LBE directs agencies of state government to improve energy efficiency, promote clean energy technology and reduce their environmental impacts. The Executive Order also calls on state government to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent, reduce energy consumption at state-owned and leased facilities 20 percent, and procure 15 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2012.
Under this initiative, and using a total of $8.6 million in ARRA dollars to leverage $10.5 million in additional private and public capital, the Patrick-Murray Administration is installing 3.8 MW of solar power at nearly two dozen sites, including 13 state colleges and universities, five correctional facilities, a recycling center, an affordable housing complex, the Department of Conservation and Recreation's Blue Hills Reservation and Logan International Airport. Administered by EEA's Department of Energy Resources (DOER) and the Division of Capital Asset Management, this solar deployment will generate 4.7 million kWh of electricity in its first year - reducing state electric bills by hundreds of thousands of dollars. In addition to Ostrow Electric, companies involved in these installations include Ameresco and J. F. White, both headquartered in Framingham.
"As a Massachusetts based company, we are thrilled to be partnering with the Department of Energy Resources to help them bring clean, renewable, solar energy to state-owned facilities across the Commonwealth," said George Sakelaris, President and Founder of Ameresco. "In addition, we are happy that these projects support green jobs in the Commonwealth as Ameresco uses Massachusetts' engineers, electricians, and other trades people to design and build the systems."
An additional 4.1 MW of ARRA-funded solar power is being installed by Andover-based Nexamp Inc. at 12 public water and wastewater treatment plants across Massachusetts. And another 8 MW of solar capacity - mostly in the private sector - is made possible through $8 million in stimulus funds for the Commonwealth Solar rebate program operated by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. Taken together, this additional 16 MW of stimulus-funded solar capacity will significantly expand the Commonwealth's complement of clean energy, and employ hundreds of people in the construction and electrical trades.
To illustrate the extent to which the Commonwealth's effective use of ARRA funds is putting Massachusetts companies and people to work in the solar industry and other parts of the clean energy sector, Secretary Bowles today displayed a Department of Energy Resources map with sites and descriptions of all 349 stimulus-funded clean energy projects administered under EEA throughout Massachusetts.
Investment in renewable energy is a critical component of Governor Patrick's Massachusetts Recovery Plan. It combines state, federal and, where possible, private efforts to provide immediate and long-term relief, and position the Commonwealth for recovery in the following ways:
- Deliver immediate relief by investing in the road, bridge and rail projects that put people to work today and providing safety net services that sustain people who are especially vulnerable during an economic crisis;
- Build a better tomorrow through education and infrastructure investments that strengthen our economic competitiveness, prepare workers for the jobs of the future, and support clean energy, broadband and technology projects that cut costs while growing the economy; and
- Reform state government by eliminating the pension and ethics loopholes that discredit the work of government and revitalize the transportation networks that have suffered from decades of neglect and inaction.