“Through a subsidy now known as Chicopee Solar, they’ve reached an agreement with Saint Stanislaus to lease about 20 acres on a 105 acre site off Memorial Drive that they’re going to convert into a very passive solar farm that will generate about 2.5 megawatts of energy,” says Mayor Michael Bissonnette.
Over the next 20 years, Bissonnette estimates it will save Chicopee Electric Light close to $1 million. The solar array will sit in an empty field behind the Saint Stanislaus Cemetery.
It’s not a huge project. The power harnessed from 20 acres of panels will only account for about 1 percent of the city’s energy, but when you’re trying to reduce your carbon footprint and your dependance on foreign oil, every percent counts.
“All of this is going to get passed along to the ratepayers as a cheaper, greener form of energy purchased,” says Bissonnette. “And we also think it’s a good use of this land.”
Chicopee Electric Light will purchase the power directly from Chicopee Solar.
The city also invests in wind energy through Mass Municipal Wholesale Electric Company.
This March, they’re going to acquire a hydroelectric dam over Chicopee Falls.
“People see that water going over that dam every day when they go across the Deady Bridge and it’s going to be good to know that that is what is turning turbines to create power — hydro-power — that’s going to be used to power a lot of the redevelopment at the old Uniroyal and Facemate sites, also known as RiverMills, and also be part of our arsenal of alternative energy at Chicopee Electric,” says Bissonnette.
Bissonnette says solar fields are pretty easy to construct. The city hopes to have the array operational by the Spring.