Latest Unutility Electric Solar Project powers the Marine Biological Laboratory in Falmouth Massachusetts

Sep 24, 2011

By SEAN TEEHAN

steehan@capecodonline.com

September 24, 2011

FALMOUTH — From a bird’s-eye view, the roof of the Marine Biological Laboratory building at Technology Park looks like it’s covered by hundreds of flat-screen TVs.

Inside on Friday, dozens of people dodged the ominous-looking clouds as they celebrated the completion of the 510-panel solar array at the research facility.

“Yesterday, which was grayer than today, (the solar array) produced one-third peak power,” said Gary G. Borisy, MBL’s president and director.

Officials from MBL and MyGenerationEnergy — the company that installed the 120-kilowatt array — as well as Senate President Therese Murray and other government representatives were there to cut the ribbon on what is currently the largest solar array in Falmouth.

MBL expects the panels will provide more than 46 percent of the Technology Park building’s electricity annually. The array was pursued, in part, so the environment-focused organization could practice what it preaches, Borisy said.

“It’s part of an overall MBL effort,” he said.

Plans for the panels began near the beginning of 2010, said Luke Hinkle, chief executive officer of MyGenerationEnergy. Construction began this past spring, and in July the solar array began producing enough electricity to power 15 houses.

“Anytime we can make local green energy, we can avoid having to import it,” Hinkle told the audience before joking they were technically importing energy from 93 million miles away. The panels, he said, would avoid burning 200 tons of coal in a year.

With the embattled “Wind 1” turbine spinning at the nearby Falmouth wastewater treatment facility, Murray listed some advantages solar power has over other forms of renewable energy.

“It’s not intrusive; it doesn’t make noise,” she said. “Whether it rains or shines, whether the wind is blowing or not, it works.”

Falmouth Chamber of Commerce president Jay Zavala praised the project for creating what MBL officials said were more than a dozen professional and construction jobs.

“The impact is exponential,” Zavala said. “Not only does it bring highly educated (professionals)”» but it creates jobs for others as well in the installation and implementation.”

However, Rep. David Vieira, R-Falmouth, said that while he believes solar is “a piece of the pie,” he is wary of dedicating too many resources to any one renewable source after Evergreen Solar Inc., a Marlboro company that received millions in state tax incentives and grants, filed for bankruptcy last month.

“As we move forward, we have to be careful of how we spend our public tax dollars,” Vieira said.

Photo by Mark Zelinski Photography