By Kate Merrill, WBZ-TVBy Kate Merrill

LOWELL (CBS) – They are the newest farms sprouting up all over the state.

The funny looking fields are solar farms and they are becoming a major cash crop for cities and towns.

“It’s a great re-use and it’s a real benefit for all communities,” Commissioner Mark Sylvia of the Department of Energy Resources told WBZ-TV.

Lowell is one of forty cities and towns where the farms are raking in big bucks.

It has saved more than $1 million a year by having a solar farm. It doesn’t cost the local governments anything after the electric companies build the systems. The towns then get breaks on electricity or even money from the companies.

“There is a third party that builds the system, and in many cases, owns the system and has an arraignment with the town where the electricity generated is then credited to different accounts” Sylvia said.

“Right now in this sun each one of these panels is producing electricity and that electricity, depending on what town you’re in, is either used by the town itself to power their schools, to power their municipal buildings or it’s sold back on the grid, where the city or town can make money,” said David Cash, the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection.

A solar farm in Lowell.  (WBZ-TV)

A solar farm in Lowell. (WBZ-TV)

The fields are put on old landfills, because it’s real estate that can’t be used for much else.

“We are standing on decades and decades of trash which has very few other uses,” Sylvia said.

Now these old spots have a new purpose and a goal, to go green and save some as well.

“It’s an interesting comparison between old and new in terms of how we used to handle municipal solid waste, and we had landfills and now they’re capped.  And now we’re using it for a cleaner purpose to actually generate clean energy,” Sylvia said.

Right now, there are about forty old landfill solar farms from Chatham to Pittsfield, but there are many more about to sprout up.

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Kate Merrill


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