Recently, we’ve read quite a few claims from other initiatives for being the “first community shared solar in Massachusetts.” Frankly, we’re thrilled to see so many such projects in the Commonwealth springing to life. And while we’ve never boasted about actually being the first, it’s a little disturbing to see the other projects’ proponents making such claims. So for the record, we were the first to propose a community shared solar project, we were the first to construct a community shared solar project, we were the first to commission a community shared solar project. The Brewster Community Solar Garden® project was first proposed in 2009, responded to a Request for Proposal to lease our location in 2010, signed the lease and began construction in 2011, and began producing energy for the non-profit Brewster Community Solar Garden Cooperative on February 3, 2012.
Details of the History: It all began in early 2009. Reviewing the possible models for shared solar under the Massachusetts Green Communities Act of 2008, led us to develop the Community Solar Garden concept. This was then pitched to various municipalities and groups in our area. News stories of our proposals were picked up by local papers and received attention, both in this region and nationwide. For example, a graduate student at the University of Colorado, Michelle Stoll, contacted us to better understand our Community Solar Garden® model for her research project. Michelle was also an intern assistant to Colorado State Representative, Claire Levy, who subsequently authored Colorado’s “Community Solar Gardens” legislation in 2010. No doubt that others in Colorado had conceived of community solar at the same time, but the bill’s name being the same as ours is likely not coincidental.
In 2010, the Town of Brewster issued a Request for Proposals for developing solar projects on Town-owned property. A response by My Generation Energy and Brewster Community Solar Garden was selected for further consideration for what would eventually be the site of the Brewster Community Solar Garden project. The Town and the Brewster Community Solar Garden LLC entered negotiations in 2011 resulting in a signed lease agreement in September of that year. Construction of the project began almost immediately, with site preparation and materials arriving in November. The project was completed in January 2012, with the final utility witness test and approval to operate issued on February 3, 2012. The 346 kW system produced an astonishing 460 MWh in each of its first two full years of operation. This is one of the Commonwealth’s best solar performers.
The Brewster Community Solar Garden Cooperative was established in 2011 as a Massachusetts non-profit corporation. It includes members of the community from individuals to small businesses to non-profit organizations. It is governed by a Board of Directors, elected by its members. The Cooperative has filed for and received official approval of its non-profit status as an electricity cooperative. As of this date, its members have received net metering credit allocations on their monthly electric utility bills which exceed the anticipated value.