Whately seeks proposals for solar arrays at Town Offices

By CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer

Published: 04-04-2023 2:31 PM

WHATELY — To help Whately reduce its carbon footprint and save money in the process, the town has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for a grant-funded solar array to be installed on the Town Offices’ roof.

The town received a $300,000 Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Action Grant to install a roof-mounted solar photovoltaic energy system with battery storage on the Town Offices at 4 Sandy Lane, with a goal of increasing the town’s energy resilience, saving money on the town’s electric bill and creating a revenue stream by receiving incentives through the state’s Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program.

Town Administrator Brian Domina said the town is looking at two specific scenarios, although expectations are “wide open in terms of what the proposals are.” The first is to install a roof-mounted array at the Town Offices to maximize the financial benefit of the $300,000 grant. However, the concept could be expanded to have an array with battery storage in “whatever amount and arrangements to maximize the financial benefit for the town without regards to the available project budget,” the RFP states.

“It is the desire of the town to develop and own a solar project with battery storage at the [Town Offices] for the benefits of the community, its residents and the environment, with the goals of reducing long-term energy costs and the use of fuels that produce greenhouse gas emissions,” the RFP reads.

Domina said the grant-funded scenario would offset the town’s electricity costs for the building, but officials are open to developers’ proposals for using the entire roof if it could further benefit the town.

“We have extra roof space that could be used. Scenario 2 is asking for a second proposal that would use the entire usable roof space at the Town Offices and see the financial benefit and the prices,” Domina explained. “Maybe it makes sense to use the entire roof, maybe it doesn’t.”

Once awarded, the town will go through a two-step process with the developer through a memorandum of understanding to conduct an engineering study, followed by a second agreement to undertake the project itself.

Once installed and approved by the state, Whately can earn incentives on the array through the SMART program, which has tariff-based incentives “paid directly by the utility company to the system owner,” according to the program’s webpage.

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Whately issued the RFP on March 27 and submissions will be accepted until 2 p.m. on April 26. Town officials anticipate selecting vendors by around May 9.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.

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