After hiding behind dark clouds during Wednesday’s heavy rains, the sun came out yesterday, July 17, for the dedication of a new solar farm in Forestdale.
The 16.6-acre facility off Snake Pond Road, which contains 15,038 solar panels, is predicted to save Sandwich town government millions of dollars over the next 20 years.
Ralph A. Vitacco, chairman of the Sandwich Board of Selectmen, cut the green ribbon at the entrance to the facility shortly after 3 PM in a low-key, amiable gathering of project principals and town officials. The facility is named Greenwood Meadows Solar.
Stephen V. Maloney, senior project manager at S&C Electric Company of Chicago, Illinois, which built the facility, on July 17 said the panels are generating 4.2 million watts of direct-current electricity, which then is converted into 3 million watts of alternating-current electricity and fed into NStar’s distribution system.
Stephen H. Clevett, chief executive officer of Green States Energy Inc. of East Rutherford, New Jersey, which owns the facility, yesterday put the facility’s productive capacity into perspective by noting that a typical light bulb might operate on 60 watts. An average house might use 5,000 watts, Mr. Clevett said.
Sandwich town government is the facility’s sole customer. The town has agreed to buy power from the facility at a discounted rate for the next 20 years.
But the Town of Sandwich also will be receiving payments in the form of credits available under a net-metering arrangement available to municipalities that purchase renewable energy such as solar power.
Sandwich town manager George H. Dunham, who also attended the July 17 gathering, said the town has estimated the credits may cover the municipal government’s entire electric bill, which now comes to about $110,000 per year.
Mr. Dunham said the town would apply any credit surplus, which might come to about $15,000, to the school budget.
Green States Energy, meanwhile, can bring in additional revenue by selling certificates representing the renewable energy that the company is providing to the town into the energy market, where regulations require many utilities to buy them.
Also on hand yesterday was William Yetman, a senior partner at Howland Development Company in Wilmington, which is leasing the land off Snake Pond Road to Green States Energy for the facility.
Mr. Yetman has credited town officials with supporting the project and helping move it forward.