Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., November 27, 2017—The Williamstown solar array, which was built through a partnership between Williams College and Williamstown, is now connected to the grid and will be fully operational by the end of the year. The array will provide power for the town’s municipal buildings, the fire district building and streetlights, as well as the facilities for the regional school district.
Williamstown began the project in 2014 with a commercial developer. When the financing landscape changed, that developer backed out. Fortunately, at about the same time, college representatives learned about the project from Williamstown Town Manager Jason Hoch. After a thorough analysis, the college decided to partner with the town as part of its sustainability commitment.
The 1.9-megawatt solar array is located on the capped town landfill on Simonds Road. Over a 20 year period, it is expected to yield at least $5 million in electricity savings and renewable energy tax credits. Funding from Williams and its investing partner, Firstar, paid for construction of the array, including connection to the grid, as well as necessary upgrades to National Grid infrastructure to make connection possible.
The solar array represents the town’s first major renewable energy project. “This was land we used to have to environmentally monitor, and now we’re freeing up money and we get a structured tax credit for the green use,” Hoch says. The town hopes to put some of the money saved towards other projects, including a new police station and more green power.
According to Matt Sheehy, associate vice president for finance and administration, the partnership is an impact investment: although the college will not directly benefit from the array, the college’s involvement aligns with Williams’ goals to support local and regional renewable energy projects.
The project also benefitted local firms, developers, and business. EOS Ventures of Hancock, Mass., which has substantial experience developing and financing renewable energy projects throughout the region, served as development consultants for the project. APIS Energy of Great Barrington oversaw all the construction for the project, and North Renew Energy of Great Barrington oversaw finances. Seth Ginsberg, president and managing partner at APIS, was the director of construction and project manager. “We used as much local labor as possible. That was very important to the college. This was a commercial venture that will benefit the town with clean, discounted power, and brought jobs to local small businesses.” Electrical work, excavation, and equipment was all sourced from the greater Berkshire area.
Founded in 1793, Williams College is the second-oldest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts. The college’s 2,000 students are taught by a faculty noted for the quality of their teaching and research, and the achievement of academic goals includes active participation of students with faculty in their research. Students’ educational experience is enriched by the residential campus environment in Williamstown, Mass., which provides a host of opportunities for interaction with one another and with faculty beyond the classroom. Admission decisions on U.S. applicants are made regardless of a student’s financial ability, and the college provides grants and other assistance to meet the demonstrated needs of all who are admitted.