Soltage LLC, a leading national renewable energy company, has completed the 4.75-megawatt (MW) Bird Machine Solar Farm on a brownfield in Walpole, Massachusetts. The new solar farm, built on the former Bird Machine industrial site, utilizes 14,600 panels to produce nearly 6 million kilowatt-hours of energy per year – enough to power roughly 623 homes per year and offset almost 9.3 million pounds of carbon dioxide. The town of Walpole will purchase the power from the new solar farm at a fixed-price below utility energy costs.
“Turning brownfields into brightfields is an ideal solution for municipalities like Walpole across Massachusetts and across the country,” said Jesse Grossman, CEO of Soltage. “Walpole has shown real environmental and economic leadership by enabling this project which will help spur local economic development and create strong environmental benefits. By installing solar on brownfields, we’re lowering power costs for local communities, creating jobs, and contributing to local economy.”
“Solar is an excellent solution for brownfields. I am pleased to see that the former manufacturing area is now being put to good use producing clean, affordable solar energy. This is a win-win for Walpole,” said Jim Johnson, Walpole Township Administrator. “Soltage has been a great partner on this project throughout.”
Tenaska, one of America’s leading independent energy companies, is acting as the primary investor and will co-own the project as part of a portfolio investment it made with Soltage for new asset construction in late 2015.
“We are pleased to be part of a successful project like this, turning brownfield sites into solar fields that generate renewable energy at a competitive price,” said Tim Hemig, Tenaska Senior Vice President. “With Bird Machine, Soltage continues to demonstrate its leadership in forward-thinking distributed solar generation.”
The Bird Machine Solar Farm is located at the former Bird Machine Company site comprising about 25 of the 134 acres owned by Baker Hughes, a GE company (BHGE). BHGE has been partnering with Soltage over the last several years to develop this solar farm as part of its commitment to sustainable energy development and its goal of reducing greenhouse gases. The company is preserving the remaining 100+ acres of valuable natural habitat, including about 60 acres of wetlands.
Brownfields — former commercial or industrial sites that may be impaired from previous operations — provide an ideal location for solar installations. Most have minimal shade, are already pre-cleared of debris, and sit in industrial zones near interconnection points and customer demand. By putting underutilized brownfields to productive use, municipalities lock in low power costs and generate long term tax revenue streams.
Soltage is a full-service renewable energy company developing, financing, installing, owning and operating solar power generating stations, providing electricity to commercial, industrial, educational, utility, and municipal customers. The company has more than 50 solar projects and more than 150 MW of generation capacity under management across eight states and has deployed more than $350 million into solar generation projects since 2006.