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Our members are the local governments of Massachusetts and their elected and appointed leadership.
The city of North Adams’s 3.5-megawatt solar array is producing more than enough energy to cover its municipal electricity needs.
As a result, the city has about $200,000 worth of unused net-metering credits from the past year that it can sell. The array was similarly productive last year.
“We’ve got a good problem in overproduction,” said Mayor Thomas Bernard. “We’ve been able to do a little intermunicipal partnership work.”
The solar array, consisting of 6,000 panels covering 14 acres on a capped landfill, was built in 2015 by Syncarpha Capital, which covered the $9 million cost of installation. Electricity created by the array feeds into the grid and is purchased by the city at a reduced rate, a process that has created a savings of nearly one-quarter on the annual electric bill.
The city has a 20-year purchasing agreement with Syncarpha, which includes buying all the credits produced by the array, even when it surpases city needs.
“For at least the last two years, as cold as it has been, as snowy as it has been, the winters have been mild in terms of how much sunlight we’ve seen,” Bernard said, “so we haven’t seen a drop off in production.”
The city can put its unused net-metering credits on the market to sell. Municipalities, school districts and other entities can save by purchasing the excess credits, which, cost-wise, fall between the city’s rate and the commercial rate.
Some of this year’s credits have already been sold to the Hoosac Water Quality District, and the city plans to work with the Methuen public school district, which has bought credits in the past, according to Bernard. These intermunicipal arrangements allow the city to recoup money spent on credits it won’t use while providing a savings for the municipality on the receiving end.
“Increasingly, we understand and recognize the importance of being a green community in any way that we can be,” Bernard said. “That makes good fiscal sense, and it’s also a commitment that we’ve made to ourselves and one that members of our community are expecting of us.”
The mayor added that the city added its first hybrid vehicle to the city fleet last week.