FALMOUTH, Mass. – Citizens Energy Chairman Joseph P. Kennedy II was joined by Falmouth business leaders and elected officials today in pulling an electric switch to mark the flow of clean, green electric power from a utility-scale solar array built by the company atop an unused landfill. Appearing with Kennedy were Falmouth Board of Selectmen Chairman Doug Jones and Falmouth EDIC Chairman Michael Galasso.
The former Member of Congress praised the town of Falmouth for its commitment to renewable energy, noting the project’s contribution to combating climate change. “It just means so much to all the members of the Kennedy family that we are able to find a way to give something back to this beautiful Cape,” said Kennedy. “If you look out here behind us and see this wonderful field of what used to be just trash and dirt, but is now making energy for the people of this community.”
The Boston-based non-profit was selected in 2015 to develop the four-megawatt solar array through a competitive bid process after the Falmouth Town Meeting voted overwhelmingly to support solar at the site. That process was overseen by the Falmouth Economic Development & Industrial Corporation, the local job creation agency, and the project was approved by the Falmouth Board of Selectmen.
“I want to thank Joe Kennedy and Citizens Energy Corporation for bringing clean, green and affordable renewable energy to our town,” said Jones. “We are also very proud that this project will support Citizens Energy’s mission of providing help to the poor.”
Kennedy noted the contrast between Falmouth’s action on climate change and President Trump’s threats to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord, the dismissal of EPA research scientists committed to halting global warming, and his plan to revoke the EPA “Clean Power Plan” aimed at achieving significant reductions in carbon emissions to comply with the nation’s Paris commitments. “You know how important sea rise is going to be to our children, and our children’s children,” said Kennedy. “I’m just so happy that Falmouth has the kind of political leadership that then leads to good decisions based on science.”
The array occupies 16 acres of an inactive landfill, putting the property back to work for the benefit of local residents and businesses. Over the project’s 20-year lifetime, it will return $14 million in economic benefits to the town through energy savings, lease payments, and a payment in lieu of taxes agreement—as well as supporting Citizens Energy’s charitable mission. “That’s a Citizens Energy kind of deal!” Kennedy said.
The renewable energy produced by the array will yield health and environmental benefits as well, annually displacing 4,000 tons of carbon from fossil fuel plants, the same footprint of 500 homes or 450 cars.
“It’s been a pleasure working with Citizens Energy to bring clean, renewable solar energy to Falmouth,” said Chairman Galasso of the Economic Development & Industrial Corporation. “Not only is it lowering the town’s cost of energy, it’s also reducing our carbon footprint.”
Over the last decade, Citizens Energy has developed renewable energy projects, including wind farms and a major high-voltage transmission line in California bringing green energy from the desert into San Diego. The Falmouth Solar project is Citizens Solar’s 15th array in Massachusetts, and builds upon the company’s $200 million portfolio representing 90 megawatts of power across 30 projects on the East Coast. In every case, Citizens Energy channels profits from the ventures to support its charitable mission of helping making life’s basic needs more accessible and affordable.
New solar energy generation is a key tool for minimizing the severity of climate change. Last year, 9.5 gigawatts of utility-scale solar power were brought onto the U.S. electric grid, making solar the largest source of new energy generation in the country even before counting residential rooftop panels. Globally, solar installations helped renewable energy account for 70% of the newly installed energy capacity last year. With wind in its sails, the green economy continues to advance, as the number of U.S. solar jobs increased nearly 25% year over year to surpass a quarter million jobs in the industry. This impressive growth has been spurred by an 85% drop in solar costs over the last seven years.
Citizens Solar is a division of Citizens Energy Corporation (www.citizensenergy.com), a Boston-based non-profit founded by former Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II. Under Kennedy’s leadership as chairman and president, Citizens Energy has compiled a 38-year history of channeling revenues from successful energy ventures to programs that help the poor. Citizens Solar is a major developer of utility-scale solar arrays that specializes in building solar farms on capped and closed landfills and other underused land parcels.
The Falmouth Economic Development & Industrial Corporation is the town of Falmouth’s primary agency responsible for creating and developing increased economic opportunities for both the present and the future. The EDIC’s goal is a clean, diverse, economic climate that maintains and enhances Falmouth’s intellectual and creative capacities, workplace opportunities, and natural resources.