Over the past several years there have been multiple political mandates on utility companies to increase the percentage of renewable power in their portfolios. GELD is currently analyzing options to meet the spirit of these mandates and save our ratepayers money by considering the addition of carbon-free solar power to our diversified energy portfolio. The flat land on our Nate Nutting parcel just west of the transmission line is large enough for a 1 MW solar farm. GELD has filed an ENF (Environmental Notification Form) with the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs to begin the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) review of this option.
The Nate Nutting parcel was generously donated to the Light Department by Bob Lacombe and Dave Moulton in July of 2002. There was no cost to the ratepayers for this land. This land is bordered on the north side by our three phase line that travels along the old Nate Nutting Road which is no longer a through street. The high tension easement bisects this property. This location on a transmission line is a strategic location for a future substation which GELD will need if town electric usage grows.
To be able to make an informed decision regarding a 1 MW solar farm on this land, we need to analyze the costs to permit and develop this project. That is only one part of the analysis. The second part is the economics for this project would also have to be financially favorable before we would begin construction. The availability of relatively inexpensive natural gas in the US makes economical solar power particularly challenging. If this project were to go forward, it would represent about 6% of our peak power when the sun is shining. GELD will keep you informed as the analysis proceeds. At the present time we are expecting to receive the results of our ENF filing under the MEPA by September 21.
GELD is far from a decision point regarding this solar farm and we are analyzing it like any other option in our portfolio. We are announcing a public meeting on Tuesday September 25th at 7:00 p.m., on the potential solar farm, to inform our ratepayers during this early stage in the process and to hear what you think. The meeting will be held in our lineman’s facility on Station Avenue. If you plan on attending, please send an email to [email protected] or give us a call at so we can consider a larger location if the interest level is high.