Representatives from the municipal electric utility met with state environmental officials to discuss a floating solar electricity project at Great Pond.
BRAINTREE − Representatives of the Braintree Electric Light Department recently met with officials of the state Department of Environmental Protection about the possibility of installing floating solar electricity panels on the Great Pond reservoir.
William Bottiggi, the light department’s general manager, said the stumbling block may be if regulations governing inland waterways that cover more than 10 acres apply to this project.
“If it does, you can only do water-dependent projects,” Bottiggi said.
He said the department hopes to have an answer from state officials in the next few weeks. Numerous other approvals would be needed before the project could be built.
The solar panels would be installed on pontoons which would float on top of the reservoir, which supplies water to Braintree, Randolph and Holbrook. He recently traveled to New Jersey to see a similar installation. The Great Pond installation would be the first of its kind in the state.
The panels would have some advantages to the water system as well, he said, including cooling the water and cutting down on the growth of algae, which must be treated with chemicals.
“The only flat, open space left in Eastern Massachusetts are bodies of water,” Bottiggi said. “It makes a lot of sense if we can do it to do it.”
He said the town’s light commissioners are committed to the project.
The light department already has large solar arrays at the former town landfill off of Ivory Street and on top of Braintree High School.
Bottiggi told the town council earlier this year the department is looking at increasing the amount of electricity it obtains from renewable sources, including solar, wind and hydroelectric. BELD and other municipal utilities intend to meet the same 80 percent renewable energy by 2050 requirement that has been set for for-profit electric utilities, he said.