WWCO Solar Project
Wannacomet Water Company; Wyer’s Valley
1 Milestone Rd., Nantucket, MA 02554
The site is controlled by the Wannacomet Water Company, an enterprise account of the Town of Nantucket. The Town-owned site is occupied by the Wannacomet Water Company office, two pumping stations and three gravel packed production wells. It is the Water Company’s primary goal at this site to protect existing groundwater quality and water supply assets including electrical and water supply utilities located within the limits of the existing roadways, while supporting a co-located solar project to offset 100% of the Company’s electricity.
The Wannacomet Water Company’s “Wyer’s Valley” property has been identified as the most viable location to host a public solar farm on the island. Other sites, such as the Nantucket Memorial Airport and Madaket landfill, have been reviewed in detail with each having significant challenges that prohibit the development of clean energy generating facilities in the foreseeable future.
- At the 2011 Annual Town meeting, the motion pursuant to Article 97: “Long-term Lease Authorization: Wannacomet” was unanimously adopted by voice vote. The article authorizes the Nantucket Water Commission to enter into a lease of the Wyers Valley property and to execute a power purchase agreement for terms up to 20 years. Public support for municipal solar projects was reaffirmed in 2016 with the unanimous approval of Article 90 “Lease of Town Land for Renewable Energy Projects and Article 91 “PILOT Agreements for Renewable Energy Facilities.”
- On August 9, 2019, the Town of Nantucket issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the development of municipal solar projects at a variety of Town facilities and properties, including: the Surfside Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), Nantucket Memorial Airport, DPW, Public Schools, Public Safety Facility, and Wannacomet Water Company properties.
- On January 31, 2020, SunPower was selected as the winning bidder by an inter-department municipal evaluation committee to develop two municipal projects: a small (grant-funded) roof-mounted system at the Surfside WWTP and a larger ground-mounted array at the Wannacomet Water Company property, located at 1 Milestone Road.
- Both solar projects will improve local grid reliability and resiliency, reduce the island’s dependance on imported power from the mainland including from “dirty” power plants located in disadvantaged communities, and will help to mitigate the need for a costly third-undersea-transmission cable by significantly reducing the island’s summer peak load.
- Once fully operational in April of 2022, the proposed system is expected to provide $293,000 in Annual Revenue to the Town, and will be capable of fully offsetting all electricity expenses at the Wannacommet Water Company, Town Hall, and Our Island Home, as well as a portion of the charges at the Public Safety Building. Over the 20-year contract term, the usable savings for the Town is $5.7 million dollars.
- Over the solar project’s 20-year lifetime, it is expected to produce 117 million kWh in clean energy and will offset 4,230 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, helping to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change and elevated sea levels on the island.
- In order to reduce the visual impacts of the project, SunPower has worked closely with the Wannacommet Water Company and HDC to increase the perimeter setbacks to 65ft, with a 50ft natural buffer to remain. The HDC approved the project on November 30, 2020, on the condition of a future planting and screening plan.
- SunPower has also proposed a pollinator habitat which entails planting native species of wildflower and grass around the system for the purpose of promoting local apiary health and further mitigating the visual impacts of the project from public ways.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Presentation at Nantucket Economic & Development Planning Commission - March 15, 2021 (PDF)
- Town lays out plan for solar farm on water-company property - Inquirer and Mirror, January 28, 2021
- Solar farm going up at water company - Inquirer and Mirror, December 30, 2020
- Solar array approved for Wannacomet Water Company - Inquirer and Mirror, December 17, 2020