AMESBURY — Over 10 megawatts of solar energy are expected to be produced in the city by the end of the year now that construction of the 4.5-megawatt Titcomb Solar Field has begun.
The city bought the closed Waste Management landfill known as Titcomb Pit in 2012. It is located at the corner of South Martin and South Hunt roads.
Although the property was initially earmarked for soccer fields, those plans never came to fruition and the city would end up entering into a payment in lieu of taxes agreement with SunEdison in 2015. The agreement compensates the city for some or all of the property tax revenue lost due to tax-exempt, federal land ownership.
SunEdison planned to build a 14.5-acre, 3.7-megawatt solar array on the Titcomb property, but the company declared bankruptcy in 2016 and the city ended up receiving requests from over 30 other firms interested in building a solar field on the land.
Boston-based Kearsarge Energy was named the winning bidder in late 2017 and the city signed the final lease documents and a power purchase agreement with Kearsarge Energy late last month.
Mayor Ken Gray said the city will make $3.5 million from the lease of the property over 20 years, as well as profit from the payment in lieu of taxes program and the purchase power agreement that will see National Grid giving Amesbury credit for the electricity generated on the site.
“Kearsarge gives us a credit that is used against our National Grid bill,” Gray said. “So, it is a three-way process.”
Kearsarge has contracted CS Energy of Worcester to build the solar farm, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
CS Energy was formally known as Conti Solar and is the same company that built the 30-acre, 6-megawatt Citizen’s Energy solar farm at 56 South Hunt Road. The solar farm opened in late 2016.
“Amesbury will be one of the largest providers of sustainable, solar energy in this part of the state and indeed this whole region, the Northeast,” Gray said. “We are very proud of that and we are proud to have a leadership position in sustainable energy. Not only does this save energy, it provides a revenue stream for us over the next 15, 20, 25 years. We are really pleased to be able to do our part.”
In a press release, Energy and Environmental Director Tom Barrasso said the city is working closely with Kearsarge to ensure they begin energy production by the end of the year.
“Work has already begun on an access road into the site and residents should expect to see CS Energy mobilizing on location in coming weeks to begin installation of the solar arrays,” Barrasso said. “A total of 11,318 solar panels will be installed as part of the project, and will be ground mounted on arrays consisting of metal stanchions on concrete footings.”
To see a proposed solar field rendering: www.amesburyma.gov/sites/amesburyma/files/news/titcomb_scan_cropped_0.jpg.
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.