Blogs > Power to the People

Following energy issues in the state of Connecticut and beyond.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Interest in Large Scale Solar Farms Growing in New England


Some interesting news out of western Massachusetts over the past couple of months regarding solar power.

Western Massachusetts Electric Co. (WMECO), a subsidiary of Northeast Utilities, announced plans in mid-February for the first of a series of solar generation sites on two pieces of land owned by the Springfield, Mass.-based utility and the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority. Once completed, the solar panels installed at the eight acre site will be able to generate up to 1.8 megawatts of electricity.

Once the necessary permits are obtained, WMECO officials say they expect construction of the project will get started during the second half of this year.

A little more than a month after WMECO announced its plans, the Springfield Union-News and Sunday Republican reported that a Chicago-based developer of power projects is proposing building a 20-megawatt solar facility in a 120 acre cornfield in Monson, Mass., which is located east of Springfield and just a few miles north of Stafford, Ct. along the border between the two states.

The newspaper is reporting that local zoning officials have already approved the project. It is estimated that the project will cost between $70 million and $80 million to build and will generate an additional $400,000 in tax revenue for the town of Monson.
Of course, a lot can happen between the time plans for projects like these are announced and when they are actually scheduled to become operational. But beyond the amount of land that is needed for these projects, you have to wonder why nobody is talking about doing stuff like this in Connecticut, particularly since Berlin, Conn.-based NU is behind the Pittsfield project.

I'll try to answer that question in the coming days.