Governor Deval Patrick and a host of local dignitaries were on hand for an appropriately sunny opening day at what is now Massachusetts’ largest privately owned operating solar facility: Westford Solar Park.
The facility, developed by Cathartes Investments and built by Nexamp of North Andover, is situated on 22 acres near Route 3 and 40 and is projected to produce up to 4.5 megawatts of energy, with an expected 100 million watts of energy over the course of its expected lifetime.
“We’ve had the good fortune to develop projects between dozens of municipalities across the Commonwealth, but Westford Solar Park in many respects is the most exciting and important project that we’ve developed,” said Jim Goldenberg, principal with Cathartes Investments. “Plants like this are the future of energy development. This is the future. Look around. We’re sitting in the middle of a utility scale power plant, and except for a generator, there’s no noise, and there’s no pollution.”
The event also served as a background for the Solar Energies Industries Association to give Governor Patrick their Solar Champion Award for his efforts in expanding the solar industry in the Commonwealth.
Patrick noted that due to recent efforts, Massachusetts now surpasses California as the nation’s leader in renewable energy, and that increased investment in projects such as Westford Solar Park will be vital for future economic prosperity in the state.
“The future lies in getting this right, and if we do, the whole world will be our customer,” he said.
The Governor and other Commonwealth officials on hand were also enthusiastic supporters of comparable projects and initiatives encouraging individuals and businesses to use solar power on a smaller scale, such as the Solarize Mass project, which has brought over 400 kilowatts of production to nearby Harvard.
“Almost every single town and city in Massachusetts has a solar installation within its boundaries right now, “said Richard Sullivan, secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. “We’ll get them all by the end of (Governor Patrick’s) term.”
The facility has already begun delivering energy to its first client, UMass Lowell, with Chancellor Marty Meehan indicating that the new partnership will save the university $800,000 on electricity costs.