Scituate expects solar power by year-end

Posted on November 17, 2014

Scituate’s solar panels are still on track to be operating by December, despite a change to the contract wording allowing for more time.

According to Department of Public Works Director Al Bangert, Brightfields Development LLC – the contractor in charge of installing the panels – asked to move a penalty date from Feb. 22, 2013, to June 15.

Under the contract, if the company hasn’t completed the construction by the penalty date, the town can charge it $300 a day for liquidated damages.

“They wanted to avoid that, and we can understand that. So selectmen agreed to extend that date to June 15. They expect to be done by Christmas, but they don’t want weather delays or delivery delays [impacting that],” Bangert said.

The town issued the contract to Brightfields in December 2010 to install the solar array on the town’s capped landfill. Before that, the town adopted a measure at Special Town Meeting allowing for the lease of the land for up to 25 years. Officials also amended the zoning bylaws for allow for solar panel installation.

The 20-year contract will produce 30 percent of the town’s electricity, feeding the needs of the schools, the town buildings, the sewer and water plants, and the streetlights and saving the town up to $250,000 annually.

Brightfields partnered with Solar Design Associates, a company that has designed renewable energy systems for the White House, 1996 Olympics Village, and National Grid’s headquarters in Waltham, to design the solar array system.

This week, Brightfields applied for a building permit for the work. Bangert said he expects that permit to be issued within the next week.

“You’ll see some activity in late July/early August. The first steps will be the construction of the security fence – because it’s a power plant,” Bangert said.

From there, engineers will excavate about eight inches of soil and begin installing the concrete base. Racks for the panels will go on top of that, and solar panels will be installed on each of the racks.

Officials are looking forward to the energy savings they are expecting from the project after seeing how successful the renewable energy gleaned from the wind turbine on the Driftway has been.

“As of April, we broke even on the wind turbine in terms of the money we made. For us, it’s all positive cash flow for the town,” Bangert said. “The only cost we had was $13,000 for legal costs to negotiate our contracts, and after that we were in the green.”