The synagogue array.
Temple Beth Elohim, a Wellesley-based Reform congregation, has joined with Solect Energy of Hopkinton, Massachusetts and PowerOptions of Boston to install a 37-kW solar energy system on the roof of its synagogue. The solar array is a significant addition to the congregation’s efforts toward sustainability.
“Our Temple Beth Elohim community has, for a very long time, considered the importance of sustainability and environmental protection. Preserving our resources and being stewards and protectors of our earth are values that we find in our ancient Jewish texts,” said Rabbi Rachel Saphire. “Installing solar panels at the temple is an actualization of our values, a way to model sustainability for our congregants, and a concrete effort to reduce our carbon footprint. We are proud to fulfill this sacred obligation and perform such an important mitzvah (commandment) of our tradition.”
As a nonprofit that is unable to benefit from renewable energy federal and state tax incentives, the Temple faced a number of options for financing and installing the solar array. After comparing rooftop solar opportunities from different vendors, a team of congregants, staff and clergy at Temple Beth Elohim selected Solect’s small systems solar program with PowerOptions. Under the program, Solect installs, owns, and operates the solar arrays on the Temple’s roof, and sells the power generated under a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) at a fixed rate for a period of 20 years.
However, completing the transaction was not as straightforward as in many other towns. Solar generation works differently under municipal utilities than it does in an investor-owned territory with utilities like Eversource and National Grid. Wellesley is one of 41 towns in Massachusetts that purchase power from the electric utility owned by the municipality, in this case, the Wellesley Municipal Light Plant (“WMLP”). Massachusetts laws require the utility to be the reseller of power to its customers within the town boundaries. Making the array a reality required a PPA with the WMLP. Under the agreement, the power generated from the array is purchased by the WMLP, who then sells it to the Temple.
“Creating the contractual arrangement with the municipal electric utility requires an understanding of Massachusetts laws and maintaining a focus on value for the customer” said Kevin Sullivan, assistant superintendent for the WMLP.
“We took a great deal of pride in completing this project for Temple Beth Elohim,” said Alex Keally, SVP of business operations at Solect. “It required hard work and collaboration from a number of different parties to develop this innovative solution, and I’m thrilled we made it work for the congregation.” Sullivan added; “We worked to streamline the interconnection process with Solect and the PPA proved instrumental for the Temple. Bringing Temple Beth Elohim’s array on line brought the WMLP total connected solar generation to 700 kilowatts in the town of Wellesley. We are proud to be a part of power generation from renewable alternatives.”
“PowerOptions applauds the WMLP for its willingness to facilitate this project and Temple Beth Elohim for their commitment,” said PowerOptions CEO Cynthia A. Arcate. “Like so many other nonprofit and government institutions, the Temple saw the value of our program which has helped mission-driven organizations from across the state tap into the benefits of solar power.”
News item from Solect Energy