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National Grid selects Ayer, Shirley for second phase of solar arrays

PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

By Jon Bishop

jbishop@nashobapub.com

AYER/SHIRLEY — National Grid has selected Ayer and Shirley as two of its locations for the second phase of its solar program, a press release from the company said.

According to the release, National Grid will build, own, and operate some 16 megawatts of new solar generation in Massachusetts. In addition to Ayer and Shirley, it will construct arrays in Abington, Attelboro, Brockton, Charlton, Dighton, Fall River, Grafton, Leicster, Millbury, and Sturbridge.

Jake Navarro, a media representative with National Grid, said that the company selected those communities because they have infrastructure that can support both the panels and the testing of new technology. Also, National Grid wanted to go to places where they knew they’d make a positive impact, he said.

Officials were happy about the selection.

State Senator Jamie Eldridge, whose district includes Ayer and Shirley, said both towns have been invested in alternative energy.

“Both communities are green communities,” he said. “I think it’s something that’s become a priority of the residents and the elected officials in Ayer and Shirley,” adding that the towns have encouraged residents to put solar panels on their homes.

Solar, he said, is a more reliable, direct source of energy, and so it offers energy security.

“It’s more sustainable as well,” he said.

National Grid expressed similar sentiments.

In the release, Edward White, National Grid’s Vice President of Customer Strategy and Environmental said, “Solar generation is an increasingly important piece of the energy picture for Massachusetts and the entire country.”

Navarro said that the company expects solar energy use to expand.

“Around the state, we have customers that have added solar,” he said.

According to the release, the construction of the solar arrays should be completed by June of 2015.

Mark Wetzel, Ayer’s Superintendent of Public Works, said the arrays will be located under the National Grid power lines, which are east of Groton School Road and behind Pine Knoll Trailer Park.

According to Patrice Garvin, Shirley’s Town Administrator, said via e-mail that the arrays will be located off Groton Road on town-owned land. It will provide tax and land lease revenue for 20 to 30 years, she said.

“Shirley is excited to play some small part in this test and looks forward to receiving the much needed revenue,” she said.

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