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Policy & Politics

Published on August 18th, 2010 | by Susan Kraemer


Massachusetts Cap and Trade Helps Carlson Orchards Go Solar

August 18th, 2010 by  

One of the largest orchards in Massachusetts has just cut its utility bill 80% with a $1.1 million 220 KW solar power plant. The state of Massachusetts helped Carlson Orchards with grants totaling $595,000 to help in the installation of the 1,050 solar photovoltaic panels.

Massachusetts earns money to invest in renewable energy with cap and trade auctions as a participating member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).


RGGI  is a 10-state cap and trade program that caps emissions from 233 power plants from Maine to Maryland. It has generated $433 million for renewable investments in the 10 participating states.

RGGI earnings help Massachusetts reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by taking big energy users like the orchard off the dirty fossil grid. So far Massachusetts has earned $106 million in RGGI auctions.

But getting the grant wasn’t easy. It took a professional “green” project manager eight months of researching and fulfilling the arduous grant application process required.

Carlson Orchards uses 400,000 kilowatt hours a year, mostly for refrigeration. Last year the farm spent $80,000 last year on electricity. Now the 220 KW solar plant in the orchard supplies most of its energy (80%) or 320,000 kilowatt hours a year. Only 20% of the farm’s needs is now supplied from the dirty grid.

Massachusetts is one of the members of RGGI, found by Environment America to be close to meeting Kyoto requirements.  The state is one of 4 RGGI participants to have reduced its greenhouse gases to below 1990 levels.

This is an example of how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Take money from pollution and use it to make clean energy instead. The very green state is one of the best places for renewable energy support for both homeowners and businesses, according to Solar Power Rocks!

The state disbursed the grants through through the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (CEC) ($565,000)  and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources ($30,000). The USDA National Conservation Resource Services also chipped in $287,000 in Federal Recovery Act funding set aside for agricultural renewable energy efficiency projects.

The 1,050 solar panels in the array were purchased from Massachusetts own Evergreen Solar, Inc. Local solar installation company Lighthouse Electrical Contracting designed and installed the project and Massachusetts-based inverter giant Solectria Renewables supplied the inverters. Only the groundmount racks were from out of state. New Mexico company DPW Solar Corporation built them.

Begun in the 1930’s, Carlson Orchards started with chickens, cows, potatoes and apples. In the late sixties, the farm specialized in fruit, mainly apples. As well as making apple cider, the farm grows blueberries, raspberries, and pumpkins as well.

And on the side, now it’s growing a healthy future climate for future farmers.

Image: Carlson Orchards

Source: Renewable Energy World

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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.

  • JuneBugEK

    This is a great project and glad to see it go online to support local agriculture. However, I would like to point out that the author did a poor job at researching the funding sources; the RGGI auction did not fund this projet. The USDA, MDAR, and CEC funds are all allocated from their various departments.

    • No, the two MA departments got their funds to disburse from the state of MA, which earned the cash to fund renewables and efficiency through RGGI auctions, and the Fed agency – the USDA – used Recovery Act funds, as I wrote.

  • That is really good news for the environment. A lot had been taken off the fossil requirement and huge savings for Carlston Orchards but will the company give some savings back to the state fund?

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