The Town of Scituate has set the bar for other communities across the state when it comes to renewable energy.
With the Scituate Wind turbine in operation since March of 2012, and work having started on the town’s solar array, Scituate will receive 100 percent of its municipal power from ‘green’ energy by this fall.
“This is awesome – economically and environmentally,” said Selectmen Chairman Shawn Harris during the groundbreaking ceremony for the town’s solar array on Tuesday (June 18). “It’s wonderful. With the windmill and the solar array, Scituate has become the first town in the Commonwealth to be 100 percent powered by renewable energy.”
Town officials, along with representatives from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DER), and corporate stakeholders Brightfields Development, LLC, Gehrlicher Solar America Corp., Syncarpha Capital, Main Street Power, and MS Solar Solutions, Corp./Morgan Stanley, gathered atop the town’s capped landfill to celebrate the start of construction on the 3 megawatt solar array, located at the site.
The solar array will consist of approximately 10,000 panels spread out across 15 acres and is scheduled to be up and running by the end of October.
“It is a very important day here in Scituate,” Harris said in his welcoming remarks. “We’re here to celebrate two very important projects – the windmill behind you, and the solar array. These projects are so important to the town, to the state, to the whole country, and to the world.”
Harris said the town “would have a zero carbon footprint” between the two renewable energy sources.
The Scituate Wind turbine, located just a few yards along the Driftway from where the solar array will be housed, was clearly visible from the top of the landfill, across the fairway of the Widows Walk Golf Course.
Al Bangert, Director of the Scituate Department of Public Works (DPW), said it was great to see the project finally getting off the ground.
“It’s been a long wait,” he said of the project, which originated in 2009.
As for Scituate being the first town in the state to have 100 percent renewable energy, Bangert said he “really likes” that fact.
“We didn’t set out to be first, we set out to do what is right, and that to be environmentally clean and responsible while saving the taxpayers money,” he said. “With this project, and the wind turbine, all of our power will be produced without any carbon dioxide emissions.”
Bangert was universally praised by those who spoke during the ceremony for his diligence in seeing the project through from the start.
Scituate Town Administrator Patricia Vinchesi said was “proud of the community of the people who allowed us to achieve this goal today.”
Vinchesi, who has also been involved with the project from its conception, spoke of its complexity, and said that she was relieved to see it come to fruition.
“This is work we chose to do over and above what we had to do,” she said.
Vinchesi, along with the Scituate Board of Selectmen, and the Scituate Renewable Energy Committee, were acknowledged for their unwavering commitment to the project, and the time they have dedicated to moving the project along.
Commissioner Ken Kimmell of the MassDEP praised Scituate for its progressive initiatives.
“What we see here is the town having taken an environmental liability and turning it into clean energy site,” he said of the solar array at the landfill. “This is a testament to a lot of really hard work. I can’t say enough about how proactive this town has been.”
Mark Sylvia, Commissioner with the Department of Energy Resources, said Scituate has “really led the way” in green energy accomplishments.
“This is just another step forward,” he said. “I’m very excited to see what Scituate does next. We look forward to partnering with Scituate because we know more good things are to come.”
Nearly all town department heads attended the celebration, and expressed excitement about the benefits the wind turbine and the solar array would bring to the town.
Selectmen Rick Murray and Marty O’Toole, as well as members of the Scituate Renewable Energy Committee, shared that optimism.
“This is a great day for Scituate,” said Murray. “This is great stuff. It sets an example. We are very much a leader in green energy production.”
Murray said that in addition to benefiting the environment, the solar array is creating jobs.
“There are so many entities involved with this,” he said. “This is jobs. This is clean energy. This is government. This is environment. This is power. And it’s all rolled into one.”
He pointed out that local business, Scituate Concrete Pipe Corp., had manufactured the concrete footings of the solar array.
John Hanselman, Managing Principal of Brightfields Development, LLC spoke of the significance of the event, and said that getting to this point was due to Scituate’s “Yankee determination, and having the vision and dogged determination to get this done.”
“This is a remarkable accomplishment,” he said.
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