Joe Kennedy’s Citizens Energy Opens 2 Solar Farms in Agawam
by Sandra Constantine
AGAWAM — Citizens Energy Corp. Chairman and founder Joseph P. Kennedy II promoted the cause of clean energy Tuesday during a press event on Main Street to mark two 1.8-megawatt solar farms going online in the city.
The farms, owned by Citizens Solar, a division of Citizens Energy, each take up about 10 acres and cost about $7 million to develop. One is at 369 Main St., the site of the former Mushy’s Driving Range, and the other is at the Agawam Regional Industrial Park at Shoemaker Lane and Route 57. The Main Street project is over a capped and closed former landfill.
Kennedy appeared at the Main Street facility, where about 30 people gathered for the event.
He touted solar energy as a way for the country to break its dependence on oil, especially from the Middle East and other parts of the world that are problematic for the United States.
“While reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, these projects will also provided 20 years of low-cost, clean energy to the Town of Agawam and HP Hood. At the same time, they will generate revenues to provide energy assistance to the poor and expand our ability to find new projects and create new pools of charitable funds,” Kennedy stated.
The solar farms will sell energy to WMECO, getting energy credits they will transfer to HP Hood and the city, enabling them to buy electricity at discounted rates.
Kennedy launched Citizens Energy in 1979 to promote innovative ventures in energy and other industries. Citizens Energy is best known for its heating oil program, which has provided millions of low-income Americans with free and discounted health oil for more than 30 years.
Citizens Solar has developed a half dozen similar solar projects in recent years and is working to initiate more renewable energy projects.
Westmass Area Development Corp. President Kenn W. Delude said the installation of the Shoemaker Lane solar energy project means the Agawam Regional Industrial Park is now filled to capacity.
“Working with Citizens Energy, we were confident this green energy project would be a success and a benefit to the community of Agawam,” Delude said.
Kennedy praised Mayor Richard A. Cohen, who was at the event, for supporting the projects, saying political leadership like that is needed to move the country forward on the energy front.