GRAFTON, Mass - Will Grafton go green? Town Administrator Timothy P. McInerney is planning on it.
If all goes well, town-owned properties could see a big savings in their annual electric bill thanks to two solar farms that are in the planning stages. McInerney said that by next July, the town could begin seeing solar power credits shaving $130,000 off their National Grid bill — and reducing the town’s overhead.
The first farm would be built on town property at the Follette Street Water District site, the second would be built on Northbridge property at the South Grafton line. Permits have been pulled from building inspectors in both towns and McInerney said the target date to be online is next July.
Follette Street is expected to generate two megawatts of power, half of which will be bought by the town through credits. One megawatt is equal to 1 million watts of power, enough to power, conservatively, 200 homes or more depending on the number of sunny days in a year.
National Grid would buy the solar power and, in turn, the town would pay a reduced price for electricity based on the credit from the utility company. The town would split the credit with the water district, keeping 80 percent. McInerney said the savings would be about $75,000 a year. If the plan to buy electricity from Northbridge happens, that would bring another $55,000 savings.
“The goal is to become more self-sustaining,” McInerney said. “By saving on electricity, it reduces our budget.”
McInerney said solar panels could also be installed on the roofs of schools and the municipal center if the town can get grant money to fund the projects. “There are structural issues to consider,” he said about some of the older buildings. But if grant money could be found, each building could save 25 percent of their electric bill.