The MBTA is planning to install solar panels at two sites this fall to expand its use of renewable energy and possibly save the cash-strapped agency some money.
The agency is looking for an outside company to design, build, and maintain solar panels at the Wonderland parking garage in Revere and the Readville Yard 5 in Dedham, a spokesman said today. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority began advertising for bids last week and hopes to begin construction in the fall.
“Given the intersection of clean power and saving money, it’s the right time and the right thing for the MBTA to do,” said Andrew Brennan, the agency’s director of environmental affairs.
By putting the two parcels out to bid for a solar developer, the MBTA won’t have to pay for the installation or operating costs, but will purchase the power from the developer for 20 years.
“The T anticipates a cost savings since the cost per kilowatt hour of electricity is expected to be lower than the MBTA’s current retail cost for electricity,” spokesman Joe Pesaturo said in an e-mail.
Brennan and Michael Donaghy, the MBTA’s manager of energy efficiency, said the agency’s speculative estimate for savings is in the neighborhood of $250,000 annually. Over the 20 year term, the agency expects to save about $2 million.
The MBTA recently finished a cleanup of the rail yard, which was contaminated for many years. After a long history of community and environmental problems, the Readville yard is not the best candidate for a housing or commercial development, Brennan said.
“All the things that make it bad for another development make it fantastic for solar development,” he said. “We’re going to take it from a brown field to a bright field.”
At the Wonderland parking garage in Revere, which is under construction and expected to open by this summer, a developer will build a solar canopy over parking spaces on top of the seven-story garage.
The T estimated that a developer could generate about 2.3 megawatts of power annually at the 18-acre rail Readville Yard 5 and about 200 kilowatts at the Wonderland garage site.
In September, the agency’s board of directors approved a plan to purchase 20 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources. Brennan said the electricty generated from the new solar arrays will be “over and above that.”
The MBTA, the state’s largest consumer of electricity, already owns and operates a wind turbine in Kingston, and plans to build a second in Bridgewater this summer.