Solar biz celebrates 2,000th installation, energy independence for Sunderland housing complex


Staff Writer

Published: 08-16-2023 7:58 PM

SUNDERLAND — With the flip of a switch, Sanderson Place’s solar array kicked on Aug. 9 and set the senior housing facility on the road to energy independence.

At the same time, the event marked Pioneer Valley Photovoltaics’ (PV Squared Solar) 2,000th installation in western and central Massachusetts and southern Vermont. With a mission focused on sustainability and affordability, PV Squared worker-owner and Director of Marketing and Outreach Brittany Hathaway said the Sanderson Place array is a “stellar example” of how the Greenfield-based company works to create affordable housing.

“We can provide and celebrate energy independence in this diverse, beautiful senior community at Sanderson Place,” Hathaway said to residents, who were joined by PV Squared and Valley Community Development Corporation representatives. “The best part about the gift of solar is it keeps on giving and we know that this [photovoltaic] system will protect the affordability of living in this beautiful place.”

As the 2,000th installation, Sanderson Place’s array traces a long path back 20 years to PV Squared’s first installation, a 2.2 kilowatt array at Green Fields Market in 2003. In all, the worker-owned cooperative has installed 16 megawatts’ worth of solar in Massachusetts and Vermont.

“We think of solar as the cherry on top,” PV Squared Commercial Design and Sales Consultant Josh Hilsdon said in a statement. “Clean, renewable energy and quality senior housing are both desperately needed. We are delighted that the residents of Sanderson Place can be proud not only of their beautiful new homes, but also of the sustainable energy that is generated from their roof every day.”

Joining Hathaway was Rural Development Inc. Executive Director Gina Govoni, who said energy independence and sustainability were two of the primary goals in developing Sanderson Place at 120 North Main St. Rural Development Inc. is the Montague-based nonprofit created by the Franklin County Regional Housing & Redevelopment Authority, of which Govoni is also executive director.

“This is really one of the town of Sunderland’s key wants for this development — for it to be sustainable,” Govoni said prior to powering on the solar array. “We’re just so happy to be making that happen and to have a more affordable building.”

Hathaway said the activation of the solar array means the building will soon begin to offset the energy use of the electric grid.

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“It will eventually be energy independent, which feeds their mission of being affordable for this senior community,” Hathaway said.

Sanderson Place was developed in a partnership between the Valley Community Development Corp., Austin Design Cooperative and Rural Development Inc. Its first residents moved into the facility in late January.