Q: How many solar sites has DiPrete Engineering worked on over the years?
A: Solar is becoming increasingly more popular, and in the past few years our firm has worked on over 200 MW of solar projects in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Over 150 homes can be powered by just one MW and this means 200 MW could potentially power 30,000 homes. Continuing expansion of solar projects in both states will allow us to remain at the forefront of energy efficiency. It’s extremely rewarding for us to be involved in these types of projects.
Q: Why is there such a demand for solar?
A: We are living in a time where the need for various energy sources continues to increase. Over the last decade, solar energy has proven to be one of the most promising sources to replace fossil fuels to meet energy demands. Solar energy systems are an important alternative for an electric energy source due to the clean energy production system, easy installation, and low operating and maintenance costs.
Q: What obstacles do you see permitting solar projects?
A: Visual buffering is an important aspect of the design of solar developments. Many communities are concerned with the visual impact of these developments. The developers work with landscape architects to create landscape buffering plans to visually screen the solar developments where necessary. Local municipalities have also increased buffer requirements within their ordinances to provide more visual screening of solar developments.
Q: How have solar projects/regulations evolved over recent years?
A: Over the past five years, solar development within the state has increased substantially. Municipalities have updated their ordinances throughout this five-year period, and this has altered the allowable size and location of these developments.
Q: What future challenges do you foresee for the solar industry in Southeastern New England?
A: I believe the biggest challenge will be finding suitable sites that work both for the developers and the local municipalities. Although challenging, I still see a way for compromise so that these projects are viable for investors while taking the community’s concerns into account. My job is to work with both the clients and regulators to achieve a win-win. It’s very rewarding when that happens.
Dave Russo is senior project manager at DiPrete Engineering.