Community solar has long been an exciting concept for the solar industry, but in many states few projects have actually been completed and come online to make this idea reality. Today Nexamp took another step towards its build-out of community solar projects in Massachusetts, with a ribbon-cutting for a 2.6 MW-DC solar project near the border with Rhode Island.
The Sutton Solar project is built on a unused gravel pit, half of which is in it Sutton, Massachusetts and half of which is in Northbridge. The project features Canadian Solar CS6X-315 multicrystalline silicon modules on fixed-tilt racking, Shoals connectors and combiner boxes, and ABB central inverters. As a fully integrated company Nexamp serves as the developer, construction contractor, owner and operator, as well as subscribing customers under its community solar program.
Like Nexamp’s other community projects, half of the output of the Sutton Solar project will go to residential and small commercial subscribers, and the other half to its anchor subscribers – large users who are purchasing the output of 25 kW or more. These include the town of Easton, Massachusetts and Wheaton College.
Sutton Solar is mechanically complete and is expected to go live next Monday, and this follows on Nexamp’s completion of a 2.4 MW solar project in Central Massachusetts last week. Overall, Nexamp expects to have installed roughly 35 MW of community solar at 17 projects by the end of the year, despite only having started in this segment last year and only having one community project online at the beginning of 2016.
Nexamp needs to have all of these projects mechanically complete by January 8 to meet the deadline for full compensation under the state’s SREC-2 program. Like SREC-1 before it SREC-2 has become oversubscribed, necessitating a new policy. And since Massachusetts is still working out the final form of that policy, Nexamp’s considerable pipeline of projects after these 17 is somewhat up in the air.
Regardless, the company sees community solar as a huge growth opportunity, especially for commercial and industrial customers who are not able to put solar on the site of their business, for a variety of reasons.
The total amount of community solar which has been built or is under construction in Massachusetts is unclear, but Nexamp says there will be greater transparency after SREC-2 closes in January. Overall, Massachusetts is one of the strongest community solar markets in the nation, although as of the last assessment by pv magazine Minnesota also had around 100 MW of community solar projects under construction.