JUNE 23, 2022
It's Not Just Another Solar Farm
Massachusetts has always been an environmental leader, supporting ambitious goals on climate change alongside policies to protect local landscapes and ecosystems. So even as we address the need to make the electricity grid cleaner and more resilient with solar and batteries, it’s important to strike the right balance with goals for local environmental protection.
Over our 40 years in business, Borrego has proved that working closely with local communities isn’t an obstacle to success – instead, building long-term relationships with our neighbors based on trust and transparency has been essential to our success. We’ve become Massachusetts’s largest solar installer by ensuring all of our projects deliver strong local benefits, and we’re especially proud of our recent project on Brookwood Drive in Westport because it exemplifies the collaborative way we operate.
The Brookwood project received Permission to Operate from Eversouce in December and delivers 7.2 megawatts of solar power and three megawatts of battery storage to the local grid. That’s enough power to supply approximately 870 homes in the area while eliminating over 6,000 tons of climate-warming emissions every year. And as a community solar project supported by the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program, it provides energy bill savings to Eversource customers who aren’t able to put solar on their own rooftops.
The project’s economic and environmental benefits go beyond the direct impacts of the solar energy it produces. Brookwood supports approximately 40 local jobs and will generate about $2.39 million over 20 years in tax revenues in support of Westport schools and other public services (as the Town of Westport sees fit). The landowners where the project was built are also benefiting from its responsible development, which will enable the properties to remain in their families for generations to come.
“Our Westport farm has been in the Szaro family for over 100 years. Right now, we are working through the challenges of how to financially afford to keep our farm, as our ancestors have before us. Working with Borrego, state and local agencies, we created the best solution – to keep the farm intact not only for the useful life of the solar project, but even further into the future while developing the site responsibly,” said Jay Szaro, one of the property landowners.
Similarly, Brookwood’s environmental benefits are broader than just the avoided greenhouse gas emissions. The project is located within a habitat for the Eastern box turtle, an increasingly vulnerable species, and is also home to an unnamed tributary to the Snell Creek, an important cold water fishery in the region. Protecting local wildlife is a priority for all of our projects – after all, our love for the environment is a big part of why we got into the solar business in the first place!
Because of this core value, we worked closely with the Buzzards Bay Coalition and the Westport Land Trust to design and create a 55.5-acre conservation restriction around the neighboring property. This restriction, which is much larger than the project itself, will ensure the area will continue to provide a valuable wildlife habitat and recreational resource for the community in perpetuity. We also built a significant wetland crossing to ensure that the tributary would not be compromised for species depending on unrestricted access to its waters.
Of course, all of this environmental protection wouldn’t matter if we didn’t ensure the solar and battery installation itself was built to the high standards Westport expects. Over several years of development and planning, we worked diligently to design the project in accordance with requirements from all relevant local authorities including the Westport Planning Board and the Westport Conservation Commission, as well as the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program at the state level.
Partnering effectively with local officials and the communities they represent takes time, and for good reason; these relationships are built on trust that must be earned, not given. Earning that trust by being a good neighbor in our communities and a good steward of our shared environment is at the heart of who we are and all we do, and maintaining it has been a key ingredient to our long-term success in towns throughout Massachusetts and across the country.
Solar power and energy storage systems are a critical part of modernizing our grid and ending our reliance on expensive, polluting fossil fuels. We’re proud of all of our projects, and we’re especially proud that the Brookwood project isn’t just helping to clean the air – we’re also helping to preserve land and water resources for Westport’s citizens and inhabitants of every species. We’re proud to be part of this community, and we’re looking forward to continuing to work together toward our shared environmental goals for years to come.
Josh Farkes is Vice President of sales at Borrego where he leads Borrego’s Account Management team. From the company’s regional headquarters in Lowell, Mass., he works with IPP partners to contract and close out diligence and development items to drive projects to an eventual Notice to Proceed. Josh’s expertise is derived from his account management, sales and development experience, particularly in the core solar markets on the East Coast. Before transitioning to his current role, Josh was a project developer or account manager on over 350 MW of successfully contracted, financed and constructed solar projects.