GREENFIELD — Installation of what will be the city’s largest roof-mounted solar project began earlier this month.
PV Squared, a solar energy company based in Greenfield, is installing the 550-kilowatt array on two buildings at the Valley Steel Stamp manufacturing company, at 15 Greenfield St.
“We have enormous electrical usage here and an enormous amount of roof space,” Valley Steel Stamp owner Steve Capshaw explained. “Depending on the way the numbers work out, I think this is going to reduce our usage off the grid by 30 to 50 percent, given that we use a huge amount of electricity.”
Capshaw said the $1.05 million solar project is one the company began looking into about 10 years ago, when tax incentives first encouraged companies to seek greener alternatives for energy use. Until recently, Capshaw wasn’t sure if it was the right financial move for the company.
“But I feel, and my employees feel, given how much power we use, we have a responsibility — given the fact of global warming — to make an impact and to cut into our usages as we go,” he said.
Once complete, the 550-kilowatt array will account for an annual environmental offset of 417 metric tons of carbon dioxide, which, according to information from PV Squared, is equivalent to the annual carbon dioxide emissions from 460,000 pounds of coal burned and 47,000 gallons of gasoline used.
Capshaw said PV Squared offered his company cost-certainty with a quote that covered, up front, any engineering studies required of them by their electrical services provider — in this case, Eversource.
It was also important to Capshaw that he used someone local for the project.
“I wanted someone local to support the local economy and so my project could be supported in the future,” he said.
PV Squared has completed 150 solar installations in Greenfield, according to Josh Hilsdon, commercial design and sales consultant at PV Squared. He said this project will be one of the largest roof-mounted projects in Franklin County, though there are larger ground solar projects.
He said the project will ultimately save money on the company’s utility bill, once they own the system outright.
Capshaw, however, said installing solar wasn’t necessarily the most economical decision for his company.
“It’s a five-year payback. That was the longest I wanted to go,” he said, noting he could have made investments where the payback takes less time. “We really just felt like it was something we needed to do at some point in time.”
But, he said, it fits the company’s long-term vision.
“We’ve been investing in Greenfield for 50 years, and we intend to invest for 50 more,” he said. “We intend to be on the forefront of (being green) in Greenfield.”
Barring any potential setbacks from the spread of COVID-19, the project is expected to be finished in May.
Mary Byrne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-772-0261, ext. 263.