MARCH 2010

Massachusetts energy company finds solar site

Western Massachusetts Electric Company has announced its plan to develop the first of several large-scale solar energy facilities. The selected site on Silver Lake Boulevard combines two parcels of land owned by WMECo and the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority (PEDA) at the William Stanley Business Park. The 8-acre site will accommodate up to 1.8 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity.

WMECo officials joined local officials and PEDA representatives in announcing the agreement to combine these brownfield properties into one of the largest solar facilities in New England.

The Commonwealth has a goal to install 250 MW of solar by 2017. Under the landmark Green Communities Act, each Massachusetts electric utility may own up to 50 MW of solar generation, subject to approval by the Department of Public Utilities.

WMECo is the first utility to receive DPU approval and is currently authorized to install 6 MW of solar. The Company’s solar program reflects a close collaboration with the Attorney General’s office and other key Massachusetts and industry stakeholders.

WMECo’s Silver Lake Boulevard project combines a six-acre parcel owned by the utility and a two-acre parcel in the William Stanley Business Park. A WMECo substation is situated between the two parcels, providing an efficient connection to the utility’s local distribution system.

Large-scale solar energy facilities are still relatively new to Massachusetts and New England. Approximately 10 MW of solar generation is currently on-line in the Commonwealth. Comprised of approximately 1,100 individual photovoltaic systems, the largest one is approximately 500 kilowatts (0.5 MW). WMECo’s first solar project can be as large as 1.8 MW and the Company expects it to cost considerably less than existing photovoltaic systems.

The project will bring $10-12 million of construction to the region and is expected to contribute more than $200,000 of annual property tax revenue to the city of Pittsfield. Pittsfield is one of the two Gateway Communities in WMECo’s service territory and is home to some 24,000 WMECo customers.

Local permitting for the project is underway and WMECo expects to begin construction in the second quarter of this year. The Company continues to evaluate other sites for the remaining scope of its 6 MW solar program.

WMECo’s solar program focuses on larger-scale facilities (1 MW or greater), emphasizing landfill, brownfield and utility-owned properties as ideal locations. Such properties typically have few alternative uses and are very compatible with the construction of solar energy facilities. WMECo also seeks to develop the market for larger-scale solar facilities – the Company’s program makes extensive use of competitive bidding and relies heavily on the expertise of the solar industry.

WMECo has currently qualified 16 solar firms to bid on its projects. The Company is also evaluating 25 sites owned by municipalities and private developers located in WMECo’s service territory. The Company expects to draw upon these prospective sites as it develops additional projects during 2010. WMECo will complete the remainder of its 6 MW program by 2012.