PEPPERELL — The town’s newest solar operation has lots of people smiling. What’s not to like?
A select number of local National Grid customers, 170 households, who subscribed to the community solar facility will see a savings between five and 15 percent on their monthly bill once the array is up and running, said Drew Warshaw, vice president for community solar, NRG.
Owner NRG is just waiting for National Grid to come by the site before it can go live. That will happen in about a week, Warshaw said.
“Community solar really defines the future,” he said during Monday’s. In addition to “smoothing” the utility bill, the green energy is available to all customers and the farm benefits the local community.
“The best part is you don’t have to put solar on your roof,” Warshaw said. Most customers are homeowners. Renters also can belong.
Several initial subscribers live in Lowell, he said.
“The demand is off the charts,” Warshaw said. The farm was subscribed fully within a couple of months.
The one-megawatt array is located on land leased from farmer Charles Tully on Nashua Road. He was using only part of the land and found that leasing to NRG brought a greater financial advantage.
The 12 rows of different lengths have 4,407 solar panels. Inverters change the power to alternating current so it can go out on the power grid to be used. Grass grows between and under the arrays.
A buffer of trees in the back of the lot remains because of wetlands, said John Coles of Borrego Solar Systems, the company that built the farm.
Even the town benefited. It made $25,000 when the project was permitted, Selectman Stephen Themelis said.
NRG began the process about a year ago, Town Administrator Mark Andrews said. They worked with the Planning Board, the conservation administrator and the building inspector during permitting and building stages.
The builders provided training for the Fire Department, Building Inspector Harry Cullinan said. The site is adjacent to the airport, which houses a skydiving business.
At the operation’s unveiling on Monday, said state Sen. Eileen Donoghue, D-Lowell, “We’re glad you’re here,. The legislature spent a great deal of time working on energy.”
“We’ve talked a lot about getting clean, renewable energy,” said state Rep. Sheila Harrington. R-Groton.
“It really is the future,” Selectman Melissa Tzanoudakis said.
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