Medfield cuts ribbon on new solar era

Hometown Weekly | Stephen Press
May 5, 2016

In front of a backdrop of a clear blue sky, Medfield’s Energy and Facilities Manager, Andrew Seaman, addressed a small gathering at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. “We’re generating electricity,” he proudly said.

Behind him, the town’s new solar array glistened. The array, consisting of 765 panels, was officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, April 28. Besides remarks from Mr. Seaman, the ceremony also included words from Selectman Mark Fisher, energy committee chairman Fred Bunger, and Rep. Shawn Dooley (R) of Norfolk County’s 9th District.

The solar array, built by Connecticut company Green Skies Renewable Energy, will produce 300,000 kilowatt hours annually. It will be cash-flow positive from year one due to the utility savings and sale of Solar Renewable Energy Credits. Additionally, the project came in under budget, leaving $240,000 for additional projects.

This is not the area’s only recent opening of a solar array. A week prior, Needham opened a solar facility on its capped landfill. None of this comes as a surprise to Seaman, who expects to see more solar energy in Massachusetts going forward.

“I believe peoples’ wallets are what speak volumes. If the taxpayers are going to save money,” he suggested, then solar will continue to thrive.

“We’ve seen how dramatically the prices of solar have dropped. Here in Massachusetts, with high electricity costs, solar now makes economical sense,” he said. “The Kinder Morgan pipeline [a proposed natural gas pipeline] isn’t going through. It makes sense to find alternative sources of energy.”

Indeed, a second solar array, partially funded by the savings from the Wastewater array’s construction, is scheduled to be constructed on the roof of the town garage by the end of 2016.

Beyond building its own solar facilities, the town is also encouraging its citizens to Solarize Medfield as part of the Solarize Massachusetts grant program. The program seeks to increase the use of solar power by homes and small businesses through grassroots outreach and education.

After the town selects a solar vendor in June, residents will have the opportunity to receive a free evaluation and quote on placing solar panels on their property. Those who sign a contract with the vendor will be part of a tiered pricing structure. “The more people who sign up, the cheaper it’s going to be,” says Seaman.

He’s also quick to say that while solar and other renewable sources of energy are incredibly helpful, conservation is still the biggest difference-maker.

“The cheapest kilowatt,” he astutely points out, “is the one that you don’t use.”

More information about Solarize Medfield can be found at