Nation's Largest "Brightfield" Dedicated in Brockton, Massachusetts

Largest Solar Energy System in New England is an Environmental, Educational and Aesthetic Asset

Largest Solar Energy System in New England is an Environmental, Educational and Aesthetic Asset

Oct. 26, 2006 (Brockton, Mass.) - Federal, state and local officials, solar experts, environmentalists and community leaders will gather today to celebrate the completion of the Brockton Brightfield, a 425-kilowatt (kW) photovoltaic (PV) solar energy system located on an 3.7 acre environmentally remediated brownfield in Brockton, Massachusetts.

Among those scheduled to speak at the ceremony are:
U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch,
Brockton Mayor James E. Harrington
Massachusetts State Sen. Robert S. Creedon
City Council Representative Linda Balzotti of Brockton,
Dr. Warren Leon, Director of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative's (MTC) Renewable Energy Trust
Robert W. Varney, Regional Administrator of the New England Office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The Brockton Brightfield is the largest solar energy plant in New England, and the largest brightfield - an idle remediated "brownfield" transformed into a solar energy generating station - in the nation.

The new brightfield establishes Brockton, long known as the City of Champions, as Massachusetts' solar energy champion, with the largest installed capacity of photovoltaic solar power of any city in the commonwealth.

One of the ways that the city intends to build upon its solar leadership is by expanding the solar energy power plant to an associated brownfield across the street. Eventually the city plans to increase the Brockton Brightfield's capacity to 1 megawatt (MW).

"The Brockton Brightfield was built thanks to an extraordinary partnership between government agencies, nonprofit organizations and businesses," said Mayor Harrington. "We hope that Brockton's success in bringing this project to fruition will inspire other communities across the nation to turn their brownfields into clean solar energy generating brightfields as well."

Brightfield Benefits Brockton
Global Solar Inc. designed, built, operates and maintains the Brockton Brightfield. In building the Brockton Brightfield, Global Solar used 1,395 SCHOTT Solar ASE 300 modules built at SCHOTT Solar's production facility in nearby Billerica, Mass.

These solar panels will generate an estimated 535 Megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity annually, enough energy to power approximately 71 homes.

The development of the Brockton Brightfield will provide three key benefits to the community:

Environmental: The use of solar power to produce electricity at the Brockton Brightfield, rather than fossil fuels, will result in a reduction of 589,570 pounds of carbon dioxide per year, equivalent to removing approximately 51 cars from the nation's highways. The Brockton project will also help avoid emissions of about 1,086 pounds of sulfur dioxide and 289 pounds of nitrogen oxide.

Educational: The Brockton Brightfield includes a stone-paved learning plaza, which will enable visitors to read about how photovoltaic solar energy works, view real-time data on the electricity being generated at the site on a LED display, and even get to touch a real SCHOTT Solar module. Teachers in the Brockton city school district already plan to incorporate the site into their lesson plans, and the city expects that surrounding school districts will use field trips to the Brockton Brightfield learning plaza to help teach students more about pollution and solar energy.

Aesthetic: The Brockton Brightfield project converts what was once an empty brownfield, symbolizing the city's polluted past, into a dazzling display of solar panels, demonstrating the city's embrace of a cleaner future. The calm orderly lines of solar panels are a perfect match for the urban mixed-use neighborhood, which includes both industrial and residential development. In addition, the Brockton Brightfield's granite capped brick pillars and park-like landscaping have improved the aesthetics of the neighborhood.

"The Brockton Brightfield is most forward thinking project I have seen built in the neighborhood during my lifetime. Not only is it good for the environment, but it will also teach our kids more about renewable energy, "said Charles Vella, a local resident who has lived in Brockton for the past 58 years.

A Fiscally Sound Investment
The cost to construct the Brockton Brightfield was $3.037 million, with funding supplied by a $1.6 million city bond, $789,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, and more than $1 million from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative's Renewable Energy Trust. These organizations, along with the US Environmental Protection Agency and NiSource, also provided the city of Brockton with planning and educational grants for the project.

The Brockton Brightfield realizes economies of scale due to its size. Whereas typical PV installations cost an average of $10/watt, the Brockton Brightfield's large utility scale size reduced the cost to about $7 per watt.

By selling the electricity and Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) generated at the site to Constellation NewEnergy, a competitive electricity supplier, the city of Brockton expects to secure more than $130,000 in annual revenue from the project. These revenues will be used to pay debt service on the bond and cover the brightfield's operations and maintenance costs.

The city of Brockton estimates that the brightfield will pay for itself within 15-20 years. The project will also provide the city of Brockton with an important hedge against rising electricity prices.

From Brownfield to Brightfield
Bay State Gas Company cleaned up the environmentally contaminated site, formerly part of the Brockton Gas Light Company's gas works, throughout the 1990s up to 2004. Though the brownfield currently poses no threat to the community, a cap that seals in hazardous materials located on the brownfield limits development options for the property.

By choosing to construct a brightfield on the property, Brockton has turned what was a former liability for the community into an environmental, educational and aesthetic asset for the community.

A Renewable Energy Champion
As the city where Thomas Edison tested the first standardized three-wire central station for distributing electric light, power and heat in 1883, Brockton was one of nation's early champions for the use of electricity. Now, 120 years later, the opening of the Brockton Brightfield strengthens Brockton's position as one of the nation's solar energy champions.

The project is part of the United States Department of Energy (DOE) "Million Solar Roofs" program and the Brockton Solar Champions partnership, which have also helped support the installation of solar energy systems elsewhere in the city. For example, Brockton is the site of Johnson Square Village, the first 100 percent solar condo project in New England. In addition, the roof of Brockton's high school now supports a 2.4kW solar power system.

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