National Grid

Tim Faulkner: Solar-energy batteries and big storm outages


Many trick-or-treaters ventured through southern New England neighborhoods afflicted by the latest widescale power outages, caused by the big storm of Oct. 29-30. Some houses were lit by generators, others arbitrarily spared from the blackout. To grown-ups at least, the Halloween displays were far less scary than the darkened homes with spoiling food and a lack of heat.

After a string of blackouts in recent years, it’s hard to blame homeowners for wanting backup power such as portable generators. The noisy, gas engines are more common since storms such as Sandy and Nemo have hit the region during the past five years. Some homeowners have even installed large, permanent standby units fueled by a direct hookup to a natural-gas line.

Property owners have reason to look for backup energy. Extended power outages are more common, in part because of higher winds and more powerful storms fueled by climate change.

Generator choices and prices vary widely. Portables start at $150. Quieter, cleaner and more powerful models can be as much as $5,000 or more. Permanent, standby units are priced upwards of $4,000 to as much as $25,000.

Adding backup battery storage to a solar array costs about $12,000, or about $8,400 after a federal tax credit.  That’s on top of the price of panels and equipment, which typically cost between $12,000 and $25,000 for the average home. Current rebates and incentives cut the expense by about 40 percent.

While the price may be high for the solar + storage, consumers are looking.

“There is huge interest for energy storage. We get calls all the time,” said Doug Sabetti, owner of Newport Solar, based in North Kingstown, R.I.

The first thing that residential customers want to know is whether they can go off the grid. Sabetti explained that cutting ties with the power grid is complicated and expensive. Several renewable incentives require a grid connection. So far, Sabetti has installed one solar + battery unit, but as incentives improve and hardware cost drop, the option of solar backup with grid connection will become more common.

Nationally, Tesla launched the solar + storage movement with the release of its Powerwall lithium battery storage pack in 2015. Sales have been slow and Tesla has shifted its focus to commercial customers, who use batteries to lower energy costs during peak demand. Tesla still offers solar + storage to residential customers through its SolarCity subsidiary. Other national installers such as Sunrun are expanding into the residential market using the Tesla Powerwall.

These systems are grid-connected, allowing for financial discounts and other benefits. In principal, the systems sell excess power back to the grid. And, of course, when the power goes out, the lights and refrigerator stay on.

However, not all states are prepared for permitting new solar + storage systems. Massachusetts and Rhode Island support the model and regulators are clarifying the rules.

One problem: solar regulations don’t state whether battery storage can be coupled with net metering, the process of taking and sending electricity to the grid at the regular retail price for power. Utilities such as National Grid don’t want customers charging their batteries off the grid when prices are low and selling the electricity back to the grid when prices are higher.

In September, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities issued a temporary ruling allowing net metering solar + storage systems while it further investigates the implications of those systems.

Sunrun and Tesla have a petition before the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that limits the size of eligible solar + storage systems to 25 kilowatts or smaller and batteries can only be charged by the sun and not from the power grid. The docket is supported by the Office of Energy Resources and the Northeast Clean Energy Council. National Grid generally favors the concept but wants the rules clarified. The PUC may rule on the petition at its Nov. 27 meeting.

Another approach to ensuring that the power stays on is to create municipally owned electric utilities. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that public utilities have fewer power outages. National Grid, a for-profit company, was criticized for its response to the recent lengthy power outages in the region.

Rhode Island state Rep. Aaron Regunberg (D.-Providence) plans to introduce legislation when the General Assembly convenes in January that would allow more public, nonprofit utilities to operate in the state. Currently, the Pascoag Utility District is the only municipal electric utility in Rhode Island. Massachusetts has 41 municipally owned electric utilities. None have been created since the 1920s, and bills allowing new ones to form have stalled for years in the Legislature.

Proponents of public utilities say they invest in community projects, including renewable energy.

Tim Faulkner reports and writes for ecoRI News.

It's a tough cleanup job

-- Photo by Robert Lawton

-- Photo by Robert Lawton

Adapted from Robert Whitcomb's "Digital Diary,'' in

Regarding the rather tropical-style  overnight storm we had on Oct. 29-30:

Do the radio talk-show and other complainants about lost electricity realize how difficult it is to clean up after any big storm, especially when summery (up to then) weather has left most leaves on the trees and so especially vulnerable to being blown over or losing big branches?

Unlike in much of the developed world, we in New England don’t usually bury our electric lines underground in heavily wooded areas. Further, in perhaps another sign of America’s crummy infrastructure maintenance,  some electric utilities don’t do a very good job cutting back branches that could easily come down on wires even in relatively mild storms.  

They should step up inspection and trimming operations,  especially in the summer, before tropical storm and snowstorm/ice storm seasons.  And state and municipal agencies could do more to monitor locations where trees pose the worst threats to lines, alert the utilities and in some cases do the trimming themselves. But in anti-tax America, how much are citizens willing to pay the added costs that this might entail? This takes more manpower.

Perhaps the storm will boost solar-panel installations.  It should. There are several ways in which you can obtain electric autonomy from the likes of National Grid and Eversource by installing a photovoltaic system. The most reliable system is one connected to batteries, which will provide you electricity (for a while) even at night.

Please hit this link for pithy descriptions of your solar options to avoid what happened to so many people in New England as a result of the Oct 29-Oct. 30 tempest:

By the way, I heard a National Grid spokesman (a brutal job after a storm) say on the usual whineathon WPRO radio talk show that the storm was more intense than predicted. No, it wasn’t! The National Weather Service was remarkably accurate about the storm’s timing and intensity.

As for whether the cleanup was slower in Rhode Island than in  Massachusetts and Connecticut: Maybe, but I heard the same sort of complaints from talk-show callers in those states about slow repair work there as I did from Rhode Islanders about power restoration in the Ocean State. This storm hit a very wide area. It would be nice to get some solid state-by-state comparisons of repair-work speed. Anyway, when you’re cold, your appliances don’t work and you can’t recharge your cellphone (“I have a cellphone, therefore I am’’) patience fades fast.



Tim Faulkner: Southern New England gas-pipeline project suspended

The Access Northeast project    -- Map by Access Northeast

The Access Northeast project

-- Map by Access Northeast

Via ecoRI News (

A natural-gas-infrastructure project slated for southern New England came to a screeching halt June 29, when Houston-based Spectra Energy Partners announced it is suspending the controversial Access Northeast project.

The buildout of the Algonquin natural-gas pipeline centered on a series of extensions and nine compressor station projects between New York and Massachusetts, including a new compressor station in Rehoboth, Mass., and the expansion of a compressor station in Burrillville, R.I.

The 10,320-horsepower Rehoboth compressor station was proposed for a privately owned 120-acre site close to Attleboro and Seekonk, Mass., and Pawtucket, R.I., and about 10 miles from downtown Providence.

Access Northeast was a shared effort by Spectra, National Grid and Eversource. The project was one of several that resulted from a December 2013 agreement between all six New England governors that allowed the states to share the costs of regional energy projects. The effort hit a snag in late 2016, when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rejected a plan by the three companies to charge electric ratepayers for the natural-gas projects. The demise of the so-called “pipeline tax" put the Access Northeast and other proposed pipeline upgrades in limbo and prompted other New England states to suspend or reject similar funding schemes.

The Access Northeast project provoked stiff local criticism and the formation of opposition groups such as Citizens Against the Rehoboth Compressor Station (CARCS), The FANG Collective and Burrillville Against Spectra Energy.

Opponents united over heath, safety and environmental risks such as air and water pollution, fires and explosions, noise, climate-change impacts, and the notion that the projects helped the export of natural gas from hydraulic fracturing fields in Pennsylvania and Ohio to coastal terminals in or near New England.

News of the canceled project was announced via an e-mail to municipalities hosting projects. The opposition groups were quick to responded to the announcement that Spectra withdraw the Access Northeast application.

“This victory is owed to all of the frontline communities who have been resisting Spectra across the Northeast, and to those who have put their bodies on the line as part of direct actions to stop Spectra," said Nick Katkevich of The FANG Collective, a Providence-based environmental activist group that was founded in reaction to a previous expansion of the Burrillville compressor station. 

Katkevich and other activists say there are still many more southern New England projects to oppose, such as Spectra’s Atlantic Bridge project, which includes a bitterly contested compressor station in Weymouth, Mass.

“We must remain ever vigilant since Rehoboth hosts miles of transmission lines which makes us particularly vulnerable,” said Tracy Manzella of CARCS. “We agree and support the messaging from all the other anti-pipeline groups."

Manzella sees bigger forces to reckon with, such as fossil-fuel-friendly policies advanced by the operator of the New England power grid, ISO New England, and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.

“CARCS will not rest in its resistance to pipeline expansion here or anywhere, not until we have safely made the transition to clean renewable energy and the window of opportunity for these greedy companies to use us for their profit taking is past," she said.

Access Northeast is the second canceled pipeline project. In March 2016, fossil-fuel developer and pipeline owner Kinder Morgan scrapped its proposed $3 billion, 188-mile Northeast Direct pipeline planned for the northern edge of Massachusetts.

“Spectra recognized that their deep pockets were no match for grassroots power," said Craig Altemose, executive director for 350 Massachusetts for a Better Future. "It’s only a matter of time before other fossil-fuel companies come to the same realization. We look forward to Spectra similarly abandoning their plans for the similarly offensive and unnecessary Atlantic Bridge project.”

Tim Faulkner writes frequently for eco RI News.

Seth Handy: Paper's censorship vs. the facts of renewable energy



 It is sad and ironic that the opportunity for good legislation on the interconnection of renewable energy to Rhode Island’s electricity-distribution system was squandered by utility lobbying and The Providence Journal’s one-sided coverage of one developer’s (Wind Energy Development LLC) alleged undue influence (“Favor to wind-project developer could cost electric rate payers,” June 12; “Republicans want provision that aids R.I. wind-power developer removed,” June 13; “{House Speaker Nicholas} Mattiello removes provision to benefit big donor, cost rate payers,” June 14; and “Wind power favor yanked” and the editorial “No favor to R.I. ratepayers,’’ both on June 15).  I was quoted in one article and write to correct the record.  

I sent this column to The Journal's editorial-page editor, Edward Achorn, but he declined to run it.

Interconnection legislation is needed and good for the people of Rhode Island. I explained that to the reporter but he neglected to report it.  Our utility, National Grid, administers interconnection to protect its interest in the existing energy system, to the detriment of a new-energy economy that greatly benefits Rhode Island.  The utility has a history of inflating interconnection costs and delaying interconnection to an extent that many good projects cannot withstand and others are severely overburdened. 

The assertion that this bill was to benefit one developer is wrong; interconnection obstructs many good projects.  Sadly, too many developers are scared to speak out, because the utility still controls too much of the fate of their projects.  National Grid’s abuse of its discretion on interconnection was especially obvious in response to the proposed large Coventry wind project. National Grid refused to interconnect some turbines and sought to charge Wind Energy Development $13 million  as part of the process of replacing much of Coventry’s antiquated poles and wires. 

But interconnection problems are rampant in Rhode Island and across America.  When our “regulated utility” is inadequately regulated, as it has been on interconnection, it is the General Assembly’s duty to protect Rhode Island’s interests through legislation.  The interconnection bill put necessary parameters on utility control over interconnection.  It was supported by the state Office of Energy Resources and passed the House of Representatives twice by nearly unanimous vote because it is good policy.

National Grid is not a benign steward of ratepayer interests; it is a corporation based in England.  When its shareholders’ interests conflict with those of our ratepayers, it favors its shareholders.  That is why, for instance, National Grid reported $8 million in annual profits for operating Rhode Island’s municipal streetlights all made while it refused to authorize conversion to more efficient LED fixtures that have much lower maintenance costs.  

National Grid’s conflicting interest on local renewables was evident in its proposal to charge Wind Energy Development an access fee to use the distribution system that was put forth without even considering the General Assembly’s order that it first weigh the economic benefits of local generation.  Unanimous opposition led National Grid to withdraw that access fee just before the state Public Utilities Commission hearing.

Studies consistently show that local renewables benefit all ratepayers by reducing the costs of energy, capacity, transmission, distribution, line-loss, operating risk, environmental, and other known and measurable costs of our energy system.  A national expert presented this information at the State House on March 24, 2016; you can watch it on Capitol TV.  The Journal’s reporting that an interconnection policy that fairly allocates responsibility for system upgrades benefitting all customers would cost us all and unduly subsidize renewables ignored that ratepayers already pay National Grid to maintain and improve its distribution system.  Most importantly, it overlooks the savings that renewables produce for our energy system.  The reporter that interviewed me chose to ignore all that.

National Grid spent at least $84,000 on lobbying this legislative session. Their reporting  of their lobbying is unclear and it is hard to track their legislative contributions apparently made through their lobbyist’s Political Action Committee (PAC), “Advocacy Political Action.”  Those of us regularly pushing for good energy legislation face the utility’s resistance, not so much in the hearings but late in the session from back rooms of the State House.

 Last year, this interconnection law that unanimously passed the House was victim to the Senate’s early adjournment.  This year, after very supportive hearings and near unanimous approval from the House, National Grid worked to strip it through the Senate.  I deplore the impact of money in politics, but the U.S. Supreme Court’s free speech cases, like Citizens United, protect such spending to sway government action.  For The Journal to deride influence sought by a renewable- energy developer awkwardly overlooks the massive influence such developers are up against.   National Grid spends huge sums of ratepayer dollars on advertising, much of which is in The Journal.  Such well-funded speech evidently earns greater protection. 

At the end of this legislative session, strategic and poorly reported last-minute flame-throwing beat down a good bill.  The utility still holds its strings on interconnection.  Now that the dust has settled we can reflect on that.  Much may be vested in our existing energy system, but our people are not well served by its exceptionally high cost, insecurity and other bad impacts.  To change that, we need to correct the mechanics under which alternatives are delivered.  Those of us who are passionate about Rhode Island’s energy future remain confident that justice ultimately will be served through policies that promote the public good, despite all the financial interests that obstruct them.

Seth Handy is a lawyer in Providence.

Boston becoming a solar Hub

From ecoRI News


The city has more solar energy per capita than most other major cities in the Northeast, besting New York and Philadelphia by a wide margin, according to a recently released report from Environment Massachusetts.

“For years, state and city officials have championed the growth of solar energy,” said Ben Hellerstein, campaign organizer with Environment Massachusetts. “Now, Massachusetts has a booming solar industry that is slashing the state’s carbon emissions, reducing energy costs and creating thousands of local jobs.”

The report, entitled “Shining Cities: Harnessing the Benefits of Solar Energy in America,” ranks Boston fourth in per-capita installed solar capacity in the Northeast, with more than three times as much solar per person as New York or Philadelphia. Among the 64 major U.S. cities included in the report, Boston ranks 20th for the total amount of solar installed within city limits, far ahead of cities such as Houston, Miami and Tampa.

Solar energy has grown by an average of 127 percent annually in Massachusetts over the past three years, according to the 62-page report, reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and curbing other forms of air pollution. In 2014, Massachusetts installed enough solar capacity to power 50,000 homes with clean energy, according to the report.

Through its Renew Boston program, the city has made it easier and cheaper for residents, businesses and organizations to go solar, with a goal of installing an additional 10 megawatts of solar energy by 2020. Last year, Boston and Cambridge launched the Race to Solar, a partnership aimed at bringing solar power to more nonprofits and small businesses.

The City  of Boston also has an online solar map, in partnership with Mapdwell, a Boston-based  MIT spin-off. This map provides residents and businesses accurate and accessible information about going solar. The tool has mapped all 127,000 buildings in Boston for their solar potential and found that Boston has the potential for 2.2 gigawatts of solar power.

“With some of the best incentives in the country, solar makes sense in Boston,” said Austin Blackmon, the city’s chief of environment, energy and open space.

Strong state-level solar policies have played an important role in fostering the growth of solar energy in Boston and across the state, according to Environment Massachusetts.

The state’s net-metering policy allows solar panel owners to receive fair compensation for the electricity they provide to the grid, Hellerstein said. Community shared solar projects are helping many families to access the benefits of solar energy, even if they rent their home or their roof can’t accommodate a solar installation.

The Levedo Building, in Dorchester, and the Old Colony Housing Project, in South Boston,  are among the affordable housing developments that have installed rooftop solar panels.

“Solar power makes sense for a low-income community like Codman Square: It helps to lower resident energy costs, helps residents stay in place in their homes, and protects resident health by reducing air pollution, all while helping the city reach its climate-change goals,” said Gail Latimore, executive director of the Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation. “The Levedo Building, generates about 25 percent of its total electric consumption from a rooftop solar installation.”

Current legislation places a cap on the amount of solar power eligible for net metering, and the limit for solar projects in the National Grid service territory was recently hit, Hellerstein said.

Last month, some 120 supporters of solar energy, including advocattes for low-income  people,  business leaders, public-health advocates environmental activists, gathered at the Statehouse to ask state officials to take immediate action to raise the net-metering caps. Supporters also delivered letters signed by more than 350 municipal officials and more than 560 small-business leaders asking Gov. Charlie Baker to set a goal of generating 20 percent of Massachusetts’ electricity from solar by 2025.

The state’s solar industry now supports more than 12,000 jobs, according to Environment Massachusetts. More people work in the solar industry in Massachusetts than in any other state except California.

Tim Faulkner: National Grid stalling wind power for fear of competition?

By TIM FAULKNER of ecoRI News staff

PROVIDENCE — The construction of 10 wind turbines, and possibly dozens more, has been stymied by a dispute between a renewable-energy developer and National Grid.

For more than three years, Wind Energy Development LLC, headed by construction company owner Mark DePasquale, has been feuding with National Grid over the cost of connecting proposed turbines to the electric grid, a process known as interconnection.

So far, Wind Energy Development (WED) has built one commercial-scale turbine in North Kingstown and has received approval to build 10 400-foot-high wind turbines in Coventry. Construction is ongoing for two of those turbines at the site of the former Picillo Farm, a 99-acre Superfund site owned by Coventry. Site work is underway for another six turbines on private property adjacent to the former pig farm. Sites are also being prepared for two more turbines along Route 117.

On Feb. 17, WED is scheduled to present proposals for two turbines to the North Smithfield Town Council.

DePasquale claims National Grid is stalling the projects and jeopardizing plans for others by delaying approval of paperwork and frequently requesting new information. The utility also has increased WED’s interconnection cost from $270,000 to $1.2 million, according to DePasquale.

He believes  that National Grid is stymieing interconnections and intentionally inflating costs to dissuade developers like him from generating electricity and selling it directly to customers. This process was helped last year by a change in state law that allows all public entities, such as water supply boards and sewage treatment facilities, to enter into long-term power-purchase agreements.

“That’s a threat to National Grid. A big threat,” DePasquale said during a Jan. 29 Statehouse hearing for a bill that requires utilities such as National Grid to complete interconnection agreements within 60 days.

The legislation asks the utility to pay for the interconnection through its maintenance fund, called the Electric Infrastructure, Safety and Reliability Account. The bill also looks to double the size of a renewable-energy project that qualifies for the state’s fixed-pricing program, known as distributed generation (DG).

DePasquale said he’s willing to pay his fair share of the interconnection costs, but not for maintenance that should have been done years ago. The stall tactics, he claimed, are holding up $81 million in new construction and $12 million in lease revenue to private property owners.

Coventry and West Warwick have already signed long-term, fixed-price agreements to buy power from WED turbines and are eager to receive the savings, he said.

DePasquale added that the interconnection dispute also is delaying new contracts with hundreds of other potential partners for wind turbines, such as farmers. German wind turbine company Vensys, he said, is also looking to open a facility at the Quonset Business Park to import its turbines and meet the demand that  WED is creating in the region.

WED has filed a  document with the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission that seeks to prohibit National Grid from assessing a charge-through tax and ends the practice of overcharging for studies.

National Grid says the delays and the 150-day waiting period are justified in order to address the complexities of a relatively new renewable-energy program. Mike Ryan, National Grid’s vice president  for government affairs for Rhode Island, said the company has devoted $500 million to update its substations, utility poles and electric wires.

He said using funds from the Electric Infrastructure, Safety and Reliability Account for interconnection would increase ratepayer costs. He noted that all other states require renewable-energy developers to pay the entire cost for interconnection.

“Those costs are always built into it,” Ryan said.

The state Office of Energy Resources, which oversees the DG program and other renewable-energy incentives, said it hasn’t received complaints about interconnection from other commercial-scale renewable developers. However, the three turbines built at the Narragansett Bay Commission water-treatment facility at Field’s Point were delayed by a protracted dispute over interconnection costs.

The sponsor of the bill, Rep. John Carnevale (D.-Providence) said National Grid is using delay tactics and “squeezing” WED to pay for maintenance the company has neglected for decades. Carnevale claimed National Grid is instead spending its money on executive pay.

He noted that last year compensation to National Grid CEO Steve Holliday increased 56 percent, to $7.8 million. He said Steve King, head of the U.S. operations for National Grid, received a 58 percent pay raise, to $6.8 million.

“And they hit our ratepayers with a 23 percent increase,” Carnevale said.

He noted National Grid’s repeated resistance to legislation that expanded wholesale buying and selling of electricity, known as net metering, by independent power producers.

“They don’t want competition plain and simple,” Carnevale said.

The legislation was held for further study by the House Committee on Corporations. The PUC said it expects to conduct a full review of the matter.

Robert Whitcomb: Another trap in the energy cycles

A few years ago I co-wrote a book, with Wendy Williams, about a controversy centered on Nantucket Sound. The quasi-social comedy, called Cape Wind: Money, Celebrity, Energy, Class, Politics and the Battle for Our Energy Future, told of how, since 2001, a company led by entrepreneur James Gordon has struggled to put up a wind farm in the sound in the face of opposition from the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound — a long name for fossil-fuel billionaire Bill Koch, a member of the famous right-wing Republican family.  An amusing movie, Cape Spin,  directed by John Kirby and produced by Libby Handros, came out of this saga, too. Mr. Koch's houses include a summer mansion in Osterville, Mass., from which he doesn’t want to see wind turbines on his southern horizon on clear days.

Mr. Koch may now have won the battle, as very rich people usually do. Two big utilities, National Grid and Northeast Utilities, are trying to bail out of a politicized plan, which they never liked, forcing them to buy Cape Wind electricity. They cite the fact that the company missed the Dec. 31, 2014, deadline in contracts signed in 2012 to obtain financing and start construction. Cape Wind said it doesn’t “regard these terminations as valid” since, it asserts, the contracts let the utilities’ contracts be extended because of the alliance’s “unprecedented and relentless litigation.” Bill Koch has virtually unlimited funds to pay lawyers to litigate unto the Second Coming, aided by imaginative rhetoric supplied by his  very smart and well paid pit-bull  anti-Cape Wind spokeswoman, Audra Parker,  even though the project has won all regulatory approvals.

It's no secret that it has gotten harder and harder to do big projects in the United States because of endless litigation and ever more layers of regulation. Thus our physical infrastructure --- electrical grid, transportation and so on -- continues to fall behind our friendly competitors, say in the European Union and Japan, and our not-so-friendly competitors, especially in China. Read my friend Philip K. Howard's latest book, The Rule of Nobody, on this.

With the death of Cape Wind, New Englanders would lose what could have helped diversify the region’s energy mix — and smooth out price and supply swings — with home-grown, renewable electricity. Cape Wind is far from a panacea for the region’s dependence on natural gas, oil and nuclear, but it would add a tad more security.

Some of Cape Wind’s foes will say that the natural gas from fracking will take care of everything. But New England lacks adequate natural-gas pipeline capacity, to no small extent because affluent people along the routes hold up their construction. And NIMBYs (not in my backyard) have also blocked efforts to bring in more Canadian hydro-electric power. So our electricity rates are soaring, even as many of those who complain about the rates also fight any attempt to put new energy infrastructure near them. As for nuclear, it seems too politically incorrect for it to be expanded again in New England.

Meanwhile, the drawbacks to fracking, including water pollution and earthquakes in fracked countryside, are becoming more obvious. And the gas reserves may well be exaggerated. I support fracking anyway, since it means less use of oil and coal and because much of the gas is nearby, in Pennsylvania. (New York, however, recently banned fracking.)

Get ready for brownouts and higher electricity bills. As for oil prices, they are low now, but I have seen many, many energy price cycles over the last 45 years of watching the sector. And they often come with little warning. But meanwhile, many Americans, with ever-worsening amnesia, flock to buy SUV's again.

Robert Whitcomb oversees New England Diary.

National Grid's sunny start to 2015

This is from our friends at the New England Council:
National Grid, a New England Council member, announced plans on Monday to install solar panels at 19 sites around Massachusetts. The expansion is one of the largest solar projects in the state, and is expected to generate enough electrical energy to power 3,200 homes a year.

The installations will be located on public and private land, and are expected to include about 50,000 solar panels with 16 megawatts of power capacity. This will be added to the existing 700 megawatts of capacity that exists throughout the state already, including at the solar facilities of Northeast Utilities, a fellow NEC member. The expansion of such facilities is promising to bill-payers; a recent Deutsche Bank report said that solar electricity prices are on track to match or even fall lower than average electricity prices in most states by 2016, assuming various government incentive programs remain in place. Construction of the project is expected to be completed by June 2015.

“Solar generation is an increasingly important piece of the energy picture for Massachusetts and the entire country,” said Edward White, vice president of Customer Strategy and Environmental, National Grid. “National Grid is proud to join the Commonwealth in taking a leadership role to develop this vital clean energy source. As our network and our customers’ expectations evolve, we anticipate more opportunities for our company to strategically invest in new energy sources and technologies on behalf of our customers.”

The state’s goal in 2007 was to build 250 megawatts of solar power capacity by 2017. It passed that mark last year and is now working towards a new goal of 1,600 megawatts by 2020. The New England Council applauds National Grid for its tremendous efforts toward meeting these goals and advancing clean energy in New England.

Read more in National Grid’s press release.