Every summer, drivers are confronted with a dire choice. They can jump straight into the car, blast the A/C and hope nothing important gets too burnt before the temperature drops below the melting point of tin. Alternatively, they can open all the doors and risk sun poisoning standing around waiting for a breeze to make the car tolerable.
Now thanks to some members of Brockton, Mass., Local 223, the sunlight over a five-acre parking lot at Bristol Community College’s Fall River campus is going to much better use than turning cars into kilns.
The vast field of blacktop is now nestled beneath a 3.2-megawatt solar photovoltaic installation, enough to cover nearly 800 cars and half of the campus’s annual electric need. The installation was unveiled Aug. 14.
“The job was originally awarded to an out-of-state, nonunion contractor but they couldn’t get enough licensed contractors to actually do the work,” said Local 223 Business Manager Dave Fenton. “The three months before they bid the job, the college stonewalled me about the details, they didn’t follow the proper procedure for bidding public projects, and they ended up with a contractor that couldn’t do the work. It was very frustrating.”
By the time Boston-based signatory contractor Aldon Electric was brought on board, fall had turned to winter. The start date had moved, but the summer deadline had not. The lengthy delay meant a full winter of work for nearly 30 Local 223 members.
And what a winter. The most snow since at least 1891 and the most consecutive days below 40 degrees since 1872.
“This is Boston. We’re blue
collar guys. We’re tough. But this was really something else,” Fenton said. “They had to dig through mountains of snow to get to the solar panels.”
Despite the challenge, the job was finished on schedule.
“This demonstrates the value of our work,” Fenton said.
(See a video of the installation at www.bit.ly/parkinglotsolar)