Wastewater treatment powered by the sun in Charlemont

  • Roof-mounted solar panels installed earlier this year will save the Charlemont Sewer District a projected $2,100 annually. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • The Charlemont Sewer District projects a cost savings of $2,100 annually, thanks to solar panels installed earlier this year. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 9/9/2020 5:19:21 PM

CHARLEMONT — Since going live in March, a roof-mounted solar project at the Wastewater Treatment Plant has allowed the facility to avoid sending thousands of pounds of carbon emissions into the atmosphere, according to the Charlemont Sewer District.

“It’s the whole concept of renewable energy,” said Kurt Boisjolie of the sewer district. “It reduces what would be burned by fossil fuels to generate the same amount of electricity.”

The $51,492 project, which was made possible through a $45,000 grant through the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Clean Energy Results Program, has given the plant the ability to generate all of its own energy, Boisjolie said.

“Charlemont Sewer District’s treatment plant was one of the first utilities … in Massachusetts to install solar,” Boisjolie said. “They installed ground-mounted solar back in late 2004, early 2005.”

But the 2005 project only met half the needs of the plant — the other half of the electricity was purchased from utilities.

“(The grant opportunity) fit right in with what our needs were to get the other half of the energy generated by solar … to meet 100 percent of our needs at the plant,” he said, adding that whatever excess the plant generates goes to the Highway Department across the street.

The grant, which covered almost 90 percent of the project, was awarded to the district in April 2018 as part of $4 million in state Gap II grants to water and wastewater facilities for energy efficiencies and renewable power generation in Massachusetts.

Boisjolie said the district projects an annual savings of $2,100 as a result of the solar panels.

Installation of the solar panels began in January and took place over the course of three months, according to Boisjolie. The project was designed by Jacobsen Associates and constructed by Northeast Solar of Hatfield.

In addition to generating all of its own energy, Boisjolie said the plant has always had a focus on being environmentally conscious.

“Day to day, we’re making sure what’s discharged into the Deerfield River looks better than it does when it comes into this plant,” he said. “That’s the intent of the plant and it’s continuing to do that.”

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 263. Twitter: @MaryEByrne.


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