Amherst, Massachusetts Enters Into Solar Energy Agreement
The Town of Amherst, Massachusetts Monday entered into an agreement with solar energy developers. The plan would provide the town with enough power to satisfy almost all of its municipal electricity needs. New England Public Radio's Adam Frenier reports.
The twenty-five year agreement between Amherst and Blue Wave Capital calls for the developer to build a solar array on the site of the former town landfill. The town will then purchase the electricity from Blue Wave. The developer will also be responsible for building a secondary solar array in another town for Amherst's use. Town Manager John Musante says the other site is necessary to address concerns of neighbors of the former landfill. The project is the focus of a lawsuit filed last year by a number of neighbors who are against using the site for this purpose. Musante says the project will go forward despite the litigation. He defends the use of the landfill site and says the plan is an innovative use of the land.
"This transforms what traditionally in communities is considered a liability, a former town dump if you will, and takes that liability and transforms it into something that has a long-term and present-term benefit to the community."
The deal is expected to save Amherst between 2 and 7 million-dollars over the life of the contract. Select Board Chair Stephanie O'Keeffe says the plan was approved by Town Meeting members by an overwhelming margin. She says it is important for communities to find ways, such as this, to undertake green initiatives.
"This has the potential to equal the removal of nearly nine-thousand cars from the road. Nine-thousand cars. That is a really big change. And to the degree communities can take steps like this to make this kind of change, it really is our responsibility to do so"
Town officials are hopeful construction will begin next spring. For New England Public Radio, I'm Adam Frenier.