Former congressman and Citizens Energy Corporation chairman Joseph P. Kennedy II paid a visit to Falmouth Thursday afternoon, May 11, to commission the recently finished solar project on the town’s capped landfill.
About 25 people gathered on top of a hill overlooking the expansive four-megawatt photovoltaic array for the commissioning, bracing against the wind under a cloudy sky.
As if on cue, the sun broke through the clouds and shone on the solar field just as Selectman Chairman Douglas H. Jones took the podium to introduce Mr. Kennedy.
Mr. Kennedy praised the Town of Falmouth and its political leaders for supporting green energy initiatives, particularly in light of the current presidential administration’s attitude toward climate change.
“[The administration] believes that the science that grew to make those panels back there is just hogwash, and none of it is going to make a difference, and none of this is necessary,” he said, referencing the recent dismissal of at least five members of a scientific review board within the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I can just tell you that there are real threats going on,” he said. “You know how important sea rise is going to be to our children and our children’s children, and if we want them to enjoy the Falmouth that you enjoy, then we need to have the kind of officials who will lead us to make good decisions.”
Citizens Energy estimates that the solar project will bring $14 million in economic benefits to the Town of Famouth over the next 20 years through energy savings, lease payments and a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement.
In addition, Mr. Kennedy said that profits from the solar project will help thousands of needy families through the company’s energy-assistance programs.
“That’s a Citizens Energy kind of deal, folks,” Mr. Kennedy said.
Poised on top of the hill with the solar panels gleaming in the background, Mr. Kennedy joined Mr. Jones and Falmouth Economic Development and Industrial Corporation chairman Michael B. Galasso in ceremonially lifting a mock electric switch to mark the flow of green energy into Falmouth homes.
The moment was met with laughter from the crowd when Mr. Kennedy pretended to be electrocuted by the switch.
During the event, Mr. Galasso recognized project leader James E. Fox, previous assistant town manager Heather B. Harper, town counsel Frank K. Duffy Jr., Public Works Deputy Director Peter M. McConarty, the Falmouth selectmen and all previous and current EDIC members for bringing the project to fruition.
He commended the Falmouth EDIC for taking a risk four years ago, when the corporation forwarded the funds to invest in the property.
“We think it is a great success for both the environment and the economics of our town,” Mr. Galasso said.
Citizens Energy is a Boston-based nonprofit organization founded by Mr. Kennedy that channels revenues from energy ventures into programs that aid low-income families.
The company specializes in building solar fields on capped landfills; Citizens Energy has completed 15 solar projects across Massachusetts, but the Falmouth solar array is the company’s first on Cape Cod.
The Town of Falmouth owns the 48-acre landfill property, which is leased to the Falmouth EDIC. The land is sublet to Citizens Energy Corporation, which owns and operates the solar array. Energy from the array—which went online last month—is used for select municipal buildings in Falmouth.
The project is the first in a three-phase solar agreement between the Falmouth EDIC and Citizens Energy.