By Ricky Pursley, April 17, 2010. The Rochester Conservation Commission and Town Forest Committee approved plans to install photovoltaic panels on approximately 18,000 square feet of the Quittacus Water Treatment Plant, operated by the City of New Bedford. Some of the plant is located in Freetown, including its postal address, but most of the plant, including the land on which the solar panels will be installed, is in Rochester.

The 435-unit system is designed to supply 91.35 kilowatts of electric power for the water facility annually. The town Conservation Commission’s positive order of conditions requires that the city notify the Conservation Commission one week prior to the commencement of work.

The 210-watt modules will be installed on a bed of crushed stone by Nexamp, with work to begin in August. New Bedford Assistant Water Superintendent Charlie Kennedy told the Conservation Commission the work would not take very long, likely concluded in the month of August. The panels will only produce about 2.5 percent of the electricity consumed by the treatment plant, but the value of that contribution will increase over the 20-year life of the panels, as electricity costs continue to rise over time. The project is being funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the so-called federal stimulus law.

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