- National Grid, Massachusetts’ leading electric utility, announced plans to spend $75 million for the building of large scale solar arrays at 19 locations across the state that will generate a total of 16 megawatts of new installed capacity.
- The expansion represents one of the state’s biggest solar undertakings ever and will bring National Grid-owned installed solar capacity to 21 megawatts at 24 sites, the Boston Globe reports.
- National Grid will own and operate the facilities, which will be built on public and private land. Construction, which will entail the mounting of an estimated 50,000 solar modules, is scheduled to start early in 2015 and be complete by the end of June.
Massachusetts has long been a leader in the development of renewables policy and National Grid has been a key player in the process.
The solar expansion was initiated by the 2007 Green Communities Act, which targeted 250 megawatts by 2017 and was reached in 2013. The target was reset by outgoing Governor Deval Patrick’s administration at 1,600 megawatts by 2020. The law allows state utilities, which are otherwise divested of generation, to own up to 50 megawatts of solar capacity.
Massachusetts has an estimated 700 megawatts of installed solar capacity and is one of the leading state growth markets for solar.
Northeast Utilities subsidiaries NStar and Western Massachusetts Electric own 3 solar arrays built on brownfield sites that total 8 megawatts of capacity.
National Grid was one of the major facilitators of an agreement between utilities and solar developers in Massachusetts that, if enacted by the legislature, will help resolve tensions over the net metering issue through a breakthrough minimum bill concept. It allows utilities some certainty of ratepayer funding for grid maintenance without putting an undue burden on non-solar owners.