The following is a reprint of a part of Mayor Fuller’s email message to residents from January 7, 2018.
We have been considering 20 locations across Newton for new solar panels on City owned properties, including roofs of buildings and parking lots.
After a listening tour, reading comments, and more analysis, we’ve removed three proposed locations from the solar panel site list and revised the plans for three other locations.
The three sites removed from the Solar Phase 3 list were at the Countryside Elementary School and the Bigelow Middle School where solar canopies were proposed for the parking lots, and along the parking adjacent to the fields and Gath Pool facility on Albemarle Road. Substantial changes were also made to the solar designs at Brown and Oak Hill Middle School parking lots and the Auburndale Cove parking lot.
The revised plan reduces the number of trees that need to be cut or moved from the original 94 down to 28. Of those 28, 13 will be cut and 15 will be moved. 140 new replacement trees will be planted to make up for the 13 that have to be cut down.
A public hearing on the revised plan is on Wednesday, Jan. 16, at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall.
The Auburndale Cove solar canopy layout has been revised so that one rather than six trees needs to be removed. In addition, 18 new trees will be planted in the area beyond the right field of the baseball field.
The Brown Middle School revised proposal removes a canopy originally planned close to the trees at the edge of the parking lot, placing it instead at the front of the entrance to the school. This change means only one tree rather than 20 will be removed.
At the Newton Free Library, revised plans would create approximately 32 new parking spaces and improve drainage in the parking lot. Newton’s Director of Urban Forestry Marc Welch estimates that seven of the 12 trees in the parking lot are small enough to be moved to accommodate the solar canopies. While seven trees would be cut, over 60 new replacement trees will be planted.
The Library Board of Trustees has conditionally approved the new plans. The Trustees are excited that the solar canopies proposed for the library parking lot would generate 39 percent of the library’s electricity use.
The City already has solar arrays on 12 City owned sites that generate the equivalent of 21 percent of our municipal electricity use. The proposed additional sites would bring the total of solar energy in our municipal electricity usage to 41 percent, helping to reduce the City’s carbon footprint, a key component of the City’s Climate Action Plan.
These projects not only reduce the City’s carbon footprint. They save money. Newton saved more than $650,000 in fiscal year 2018 from the current solar panels.
The solar energy companies Ameresco and Macquarie will design, finance, own, maintain and operate the solar panels. The City of Newton will purchase the energy created at a reduced cost.