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The 646-kw solar farm at the Salisbury Depot achieved mechanical completion on Dec 27, 2016 after 6 weeks of intensive construction.

The 646-kw solar farm at the Salisbury Depot achieved mechanical completion on Dec 27, 2016 after 6 weeks of intensive construction.

Two new ground-mount solar fields are approaching mechanical completion at MassDOT Highway D4 Salisbury Depot and an underutilized area adjacent to I-90 Exit 1.

Visitors to MassDOT’s new Research and Material Lab at Hopkinton may have also noticed the solar canopy foundations at the facility’s parking lots. The three solar PV systems, with an aggregated capacity of about 1,800 kW, are the second group of solar projects that MassDOT has contracted out to be built along the state highways under a Master License Agreement executed in the fall of 2014.  Combined with the five solar farms that have been in commercial operation since the fall of 2015, MassDOT will soon have approximately 4,300 kW of solar power generation capacity on six highway Right-of-Way parcels and at two facilities.

These projects are part of MassDOT’s ongoing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce energy costs.

Donald Pettey from the Chief Engineer’s Office discusses construction progress with the contractor’s site manager during a visit to the I-90 Exit 1 solar site.

Donald Pettey from the Chief Engineer’s Office discusses construction progress with the contractor’s site manager during a visit to the I-90 Exit 1 solar site.

Intensive construction activities at the Salisbury Depot and I-90 Exit 1 solar sites have been taking place since the beginning of October, 2016.  In order to meet the qualification deadline for Massachusetts’ solar renewable energy credits, the construction team must meet mechanical completion milestones of the two facilities by January 8, 2017.  Each site has its unique logistic challenge: for Salisbury Depot, late fall is typically a busy time as the Depot staff prepares for the upcoming snow and ice season; while at I-90 Exit 1, solar construction has coincided with the toll booth demolition and the exit reconfiguration.  Seamless coordination and space sharing are required at both sites.

“We have been challenged with extremely tight construction schedule and needed to double work effort and accelerate the process.  The district staff we have been working with has been simply fabulous to assist us anyway they can to achieve the aggressive construction schedule. Without their strong support, it would have not been possible to achieve mechanical completion within 8 weeks.” said the contractor’s on-site manager.

Thanks to the hard work of the workers on the ground and the support of the MassDOT staff involved in all aspects of the solar initiative, the two ground-mount solar facilities are expected to enter full commercial operation in the spring of 2017, once utility work is completed.  The Hopkinton solar canopy construction is anticipated to pick up speed in late February, 2017, when the steel manufacturer delivers the supporting structures.

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