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Two firms to pitch photovoltaic array


Feb. 21, 2013

By Chris Maza

chrism@thereminder.com

WILBRAHAM — On March 4, the Board of Selectmen will hear two pitches for a photovoltaic array in town.

Town Administrator Robert Weitz told Reminder Publications that representatives from Broadway Electric of Boston and American Capital Energy of Lowell will make presentations at 6 and 7 p.m. outlining their plans for a solar array that could offer energy savings.

"We have been working on this for a while since December," said Weitz, who has been working with Selectman Robert Russell, as well as an advisory team made up of Edmond Miga, Jr., director of the Department of Public Works, Planning Director John Pearsall and Ed Cinedella, Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District facilities manager. "These two groups submitted proposals and now will have their opportunity to present those to the board and the residents."

The solar array would be placed on the closed town landfill, located next to the Disposal and Recycling Center on Boston Road. If a company is selected, they would sign a lease agreement with the town to utilize the land.

Weitz explained that the electricity generated from the array would be channeled into the electrical supply and the town would receive credits that could be used to lower the cost of municipal electricity.

He also said that a photovoltaic power source would be a benefit, as it would not require a large amount of valuable land in a town that is low on usable land.

"It makes perfect sense because we can't use the landfill for anything else," he said.

Solar power farms have been sprouting up in several local communities. Most recently, Ludlow began construction on a photovoltaic array on their closed landfill, while Agawam and Springfield both currently have active fields.

Officials in East Longmeadow have had discussions on the matter in the past, but no project is imminent.

Longmeadow also explored the possibility, but found that their landfill was not properly closed and sloped the wrong direction. Making the land usable for a solar array would have required a substantial capital investment, which would have negated any savings and therefore, the project was nixed.

Weitz said that the Wilbraham site has been inspected and no such problems would face the town should it decide to move forward.

"Our site is ready," he said. "Now we just have to decide if this is something we really want."

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