National Grid now operates the largest solar site in Massachusetts, having completed its 1 MW solar generation facility in Whitinsville. Conveniently, National Grid already owned a suitable location: the flat roof of its own New England Distribution Center warehouse.
The development was made possible in part by the 2008 Massachusetts Green Communities Act, which allows utilities to own up to 50 megawatts of solar generation. The National Grid project is the first utility-owned solar project under this new law. National Grid plans several more projects in the coming year, totaling about 5 MW. The cost? Less than $6.5 million, says National Grid; the utility projects that the Whitinsville project will cost an average residential Massachusetts customer approximately one cent per month over the 20-year life of the project.
How about economic development through renewable power? The utility says the project created more than 50 green jobs in Massachusetts. For example, the solar panels themselves were manufactured by Evergreen Solar of Marlborough, and other local vendors and contractors were used where possible.