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Kennedy helps commission 4.8-MW solar project in Falmouth

  • May 14, 2017
Cape Cod Times

Before a gaggle of people at the Falmouth transfer station, Joseph Kennedy II unveiled the nearly 20,000 solar panels on the closed landfill that will generate energy to offset the town's electric bills.

"It just means so much to all the members of the Kennedy family that we are able to find a way to give back to the Cape," said Kennedy, a former congressman and the founder of Citizens Energy Corporation, the non-profit that developed the 4.8-megawatt solar project.

Cape Cod is "a really special place" that "has to be protected," Kennedy told the small crowd, comprised mostly of people involved in the project, town officials and members of the media.

Falmouth will lease the land to Citizens Energy for about $60,000 a year. The expected savings to the town over the estimated 20-year life of the solar panels will be about $14 million, town officials said.

"The town of Falmouth has a long-standing commitment to renewable energy," said Doug Jones, chairman of the Board of Selectmen.

The use of solar energy will aid the town in fighting the impending threat that climate change poses to coastal communities, Jones said.

Kennedy praised the town for its commitment to environment, especially in light of threats made by President Donald Trump to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement and the recent dismissals of scientists by the Environmental Protection Agency.

"You know how important sea-rise is going to be to our children and our children's children," said Kennedy, who lives nearby. "....I'm just so happy that you have the kind of political leadership that then leads to making good decisions based upon science."

Many ideas were tossed around about what to use the land for when the landfill closed, including a motocross park, a farm, and other recreational ideas, said James Fox, a member of the Falmouth Economic Development and Industrial Corporation, the agency handling the solar project for the town. But the solar array proposal won out, partially because it not only saves the town money but also generates funds through the lease.

Unlike the town's controversial wind turbines, this source of renewable energy has so far not prompted any complaints, with no possibility of glare for neighbors and no clear-cutting required, town officials said.

"You can see this wonderful field that used to be nothing but trash...and now it's making energy for the town," Kennedy said.

-- Follow Ethan Genter on Twitter: @EthanGenterCCT


(c)2017 Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass.

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