The Town of Hopkinton became the first town in Massachusetts to install solar panels on multiple municipal buildings. The 1,832 solar panel installation, completed by Borrego Solar Systems, Inc., sits atop Hopkinton's High School, Middle School, Police Station, and Fire Department and helped them satisfy the need to compile energy use from all municipal buildings and pledge to have them reduce energy consumption by 20 percent.

Case Study-The Town of Hopkinton

Joe Busch and Andrew Reed | Borrego Solar

The Town of Hopkinton, Massachusetts is just over 30 miles from Boston and is best known as the starting point of the Boston Marathon. However, is has also been leading by example when it comes to energy efficiency, and environmental consciousness. In May of 2010, Governor Deval Patrick announced that Hopkinton was part of the first round of municipalities to get the “Green Communities Designation” for meeting the five criteria outlined by the Department of Energy Resources’ Green Communities Act.

Part of Hopkinton’s green efforts include becoming the first town in Massachusetts to install solar panels on multiple municipal buildings. The 1,832 solar panel installation, completed by Borrego Solar Systems, Inc., sits atop Hopkinton’s High School, Middle School, Police Station, and Fire Department and helped them satisfy the need to compile energy use from all municipal buildings and pledge to have them reduce energy consumption by 20 percent.

The installations – Schools, Police and a Fire House

The largest of the four solar arrays is 193kW installation at the Hopkinton High school, which was installed on three different roofs (one flat and two sloped) with two different racking systems. The flat roof portion has five individual arrays made up of 160 Yingli 175W modules using Borrego Solar’s proprietary SM2 racking systems. The two sloped roof sections use Unirac rails mounted to a Fast Foote flashing system. One consists of 125 modules and the other 181.

The biggest challenge with the Hopkinton High School installation was squaring the SM2 racking on the flat roof due to the east west length of the arrays. In the end Borrego Solar’s operations’ team was able to square between the up rights. The buildings also had an existing lightning protection system on the roof. And after installing the array, Borrego Solar worked with the original lightning protection contractors to add some additional lightning rods to the three solar arrays before bonding them into the established copper wire protection grid.

In order to support the school’s efforts to utilize their solar installation as a teaching tool, a kiosk monitoring system was installed at the main entrance of the high school. The kiosk is tied into a PowerDash data acquisition systems (DAS monitoring system) and with the use of a touch screen, or the internet, students and faculty have the capability to see the high school, middle school, fire station and/ or police stations live and historical photovoltaic production data.

The 95kW Hopkinton Middle School installation is comprised of three Sunlink arrays (two on top of the gym and one on a lower classroom roof top) all at 20 degree tilts. The biggest challenge on the Middle School install was widening the access grate to an outdoor underground electric room where the school wanted to house their Solectria PVI 82kW-208 inverter.

The smaller installations are on the fire and police stations (11kW and 25kW respectively). The fire station has a flat roof SM2 mounted array and two awnings on the façade of the building made from Unirac parts bolted through the brick veneer wall.

Overall, the combined systems have a monthly production of 24,375 kWh and a projected 30 year production of 8,160,750 kWh.

The Financing – A Team Effort

Originally, the Town of Hopkinton was going to purchase and own their own solar installations, but with some budgetary changes, it wasn't feasible to front the upfront cost of going solar. That's when Borrego Solar brought in third party financiers, Boston Community Capital, to offer the town a power purchase agreement (PPA). Under the terms of the PPA, Boston Community Capital paid for the parts and labor costs and owns the installations, and is selling Hopkinton the energy produced at rates less than what they were paying for brown power from the local utility. By setting up a private entity to own the installation, the federal investment tax credit, accelerated depreciation, and Massachusetts state rebates could be monetized making the deal pencil for all parties involved.

The solar power collected by the panels in Hopkinton is expected to offset energy costs by about 15 percent. Additionally, some of the projected environmental offsets of the installation include:

  • Carbon Dioxide Offset (annually): 400,725
  • Carbon Dioxide Offset (30 years): 11,180,228
  • Equivalent to the effect of removing 45 passenger vehicles from the road
  • Equivalent to the effect of planting 101 acres of trees
  • Nitrogen Oxide Emissions Offset (30 years): 10,772
  • Sulfur Oxide Emissions Offset (30 years): 23,340

To find out more:

The Town of Hopkinton is just one of the many innovative projects Borrego Solar has completed, helping municipalities and government agencies reduce their energy cost and environmental impact. To find out more contact Borrego Solar at 1(888) 898-6273 or visit www.borregosolar.com


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