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Office Of Energy, Technology & Management Massachusetts Department of transporation
Energy Initiative

Solar Photovoltaic Energy Program Overview

Background Information

The MassDOT Office of Energy, Technology & Management and Highway Division are working collaboratively to implement the state-wide Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Energy Program. The purpose of the program is to build ground-mount solar PV generation facilities at multiple state-owned properties within the state highway layout throughout Massachusetts. A minimum of 6 Mega Watts (MW) of solar power generation systems will be provided from this multi-site project.

MassDOT's development of solar PV facilities within the state highway layout is driven by the desire to:

  • Create energy savings by producing electricity locally and economically
  • Generate revenue by utilizing underutilized state land
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions via renewable power generation technologies
  • Support the Commonwealth’s green and clean economy

The program began in early 2013 with an overall program design and a preliminary site feasibility study. A Request for Response was issued in the summer of 2013 to solicit best-value project proposals from interested developers to “design, construct, commission, finance, operate, and maintain solar PV energy generating facilities” at one or more locations in the Commonwealth. After an extensive and thorough procurement process, MassDOT selected Ameresco, Inc. to serve as the developer for the project in June, 2014. The two parties had jointly developed and executed the Master License Agreement/Power Purchase Agreement (MLA/PPA) by November 2014.

Project Benefits

Solar PV arrays of 6 MW aggregated capacity in the Northeast region can generate approximately 7,800,000 kWh electricity per year, which is equivalent to the average power consumption of 1,285 homes in Massachusetts. Replacing this amount of electricity in the current ISO-NE grid with solar power will lead to 6.8 million pound CO2 emission reduction. In addition to power generation and environmental benefits, MassDOT also expects considerable financial benefits from this project.

Under the negotiated power purchase rate and the current Massachusetts net metering policy, this project is projected to generate a total of at least $15 million in savings/revenue (aggregated cash flow) over the 20-year period of the contract. The savings will depend on the actual power production and the net metering credit rate of a given time.

MassDOT chose a "public-private partnership" business model to implement the program, which allows the agency to benefit financially in multiple ways:

  • Zero upfront capital cost for the state. The public-private partnership requires that Ameresco be responsible for the development, design, construction, commission, operation and maintenance of the solar facilities. The developer will eventually recover its costs over time through solar renewable energy credits, electricity sales, and federal tax incentives.
  • Full utilization of Federal Corporate Tax Incentives. The involvement of the private developer allows the project to utilize the Federal Investment Tax Credits (i.e., 30 percent total system costs can be directly subtracted from the system owner’s income tax) as well as the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (tax base deduction centered on an accelerated property depreciation schedule). These incentives bring down the overall project capital costs by more than 50 percent.
  • A favorable electricity rate schedule for the next 20 years. MassDOT is committed to purchase 100 percent power generated from these solar facilities under a predetermined rate schedule; and the negotiated rates are significantly lower than the current utility rates.
  • Energy savings through virtual net metering. The Massachusetts net metering policy allows qualified host customers (in this case, MassDOT) to obtain net metering credits for exporting excess power to the grid. MassDOT will benefit from the difference between the net metering credits it receives from utilities and the power purchase payments it makes to the developer.
  • Lease revenue. MassDOT will receive annual rent payments for the developer’s leasing of the land supporting the facilities.

Project Sites

Phase I of the two-phased program includes a total of ten (10) parcels at eight (8) locations. The ten sites are further divided into two groups – Phase 1A and Phase 1B (five parcels in each group) based on the site development stage, the interconnection readiness and the municipal permitting process. MassDOT approved and executed the site-specific agreements (i.e., the addenda to the MLA/PPA) for the five Phase IA sites at the end of October, 2014. Construction at these sites subsequently commenced in late November, 2014. Phase IA sites are scheduled to start power production in April, 2015.

Phase IB sites are currently under active development for utility interconnection, final design completion, and applicable non-administrative permit acquirement. Addendum execution and site construction at these sites are expected to take place in the spring of 2015, and power production is anticipated in the summer of 2015.

Phase Location
Installed Capacity
(kW DC)
Projected Annual
Output (kWh)
CO2 Emission
Reduction (lbs)
No. of Home's
Power Demand
Vehicle Mileage Traveled Reduction (miles)
Phase IA Framingham I90 Interchange 13 N
649 735,706 736,840 121 794,549
Phase IA Framingham I90 Interchange 13 S
649 735,706 736,840 121 794,549
Phase IA Framingham I90 WB Service Plaza
318 360,485 360,485 59 389,317
Phase IA Natick I90 WB Embankment
271 307,206 307,206 51 331,776
Phase IA Plymouth Route 3 Exit 5
567 642,751 642,751 106 694,159
Phase IB Salisbury, District 4 Depot
649 735,706 736,840 121 794,549
Phase IB Stockbridge I90 @ Interlacken East 1
649 735,706 736,840 121 794,549
Phase IB Stockbridge I90 @ Interlacken East 2
417 472,711 472,711 78 510,519
Phase IB Stockbridge I90 @ Interlacken West
649 735,706 736,840 121 794,549
Phase IB West Stockbridge I90 Exit 1
649 735,706 736,840 121 794,549
Total  
5,467 7,107,100 6,197,391 1,021 6,693,065

Due to regulatory and site condition constraints, the attainable capacity of the ten Phase I sites totaled 5.47 MW DC. Currently, the MassDOT Office of Real Estate and Asset Development is canvassing three additional sites within the state highway layout for Phase II sites, with the intention of achieving or surpassing the goal of a minimum 6MW solar PV generation capacity.

Contact Information

Please contact MassDOT Project Manager Hongyan Oliver, at 857-368-9547 or Hongyan.oliver@state.ma.us, to receive more detailed information on the project.

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