Converting Mt. Tom To Clean Energy

Project Highlights

  • 2020 ACEC/MA Engineering Excellence Awards Finalist
  • 2019 EBC/NE Ira W. Leighton, Jr. Outstanding Innovative Technology Award
  • Protection of over 50 acres of vegetated forest
  • Protection of rare and endangered species habitats
  • Largest community solar project in Massachusetts
  • Largest utility-scale energy storage installation in Massachusetts
  • Preservation of Kennedy Brook and Connecticut River

Impacting the Environment with Innovative Ideas

Tighe & Bond has provided a range of engineering and environmental services on the 200-acre property of Mt. Tom and the former coal-fired power plant in Holyoke, Massachusetts since 1969. The power plant mainly utilized coal as a fuel source until the power plant ceased operations in 2014.

That same year, ENGIE North America (ENGIE) began decommissioning and closing the power plant site. ENGIE engaged with and subsequently contracted, Tighe & Bond at the onset of this project. Overall, the project included two major objectives:

  1. The transformation of a former industrial site (the coal-fired power plant), which conducted electrical generation using fossil fuels for approximately 54 years, into a property suitable for future industrial/commercial redevelopment. This entailed demolishing the existing facility, remediating many areas of the property, and addressing over 50 acres of on-site coal ash.
  2. Reusing a portion of the site for renewable energy generation and energy storage to benefit the region and the City of Holyoke.

A Strategic Approach to Conservation and Clean Energy

Tighe & Bond’s environmental team developed the site investigations and the corresponding remedial designs for the power plant facility and the associated coal ash management on the property. Tighe & Bond’s successful coal ash closure approach on the Mt. Tom site enabled the preservation of nearby waterways, and the protection of over 50 acres of vegetated forest and its associated rare and endangered species habitats.

Construction of the 5.7 MW AC solar project began in 2017 and soon after the construction of the 3 MW/ 6 MWh AC energy storage project was underway. Tighe & Bond provided permit level design and engineering support as well as construction period design for the energy storage system. Electricity from Mt. Tom solar facility was designed to be collected and stored by this isolated energy storage system that connects to the Holyoke Gas & Electric (HG&E) electricity grid to be called upon during local and regional peak times for electricity usage. The installation of the energy storage component of the project was completed in 2018 and is currently up and running for use by HG&E.

The solar and energy storage facilities mark several “firsts” for the Commonwealth. After the design and construction of the solar facility, it became the largest community solar project in the state. The facility generates approximately 7,300 megawatt-hours of solar energy production which is enough to power 1,800 homes in the area for an entire year. The energy storage component of the project is now the largest utility-scale energy storage installation in Massachusetts.

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