Brendan Fitzpatrick

May 8, 2024

Sisitsky Reverses Course, Backs Farley Building Solar Plan

Photo courtesy of

FRAMINGHAM - During the Framingham City Council’s May 7 meeting at the Memorial Building, Mayor Charlie Sisitsky expressed his support for the installation of solar panels at the Farley Building along Flagg Drive—reversing a prior decision that deferred the project from the city’s capital budget plan for fiscal year 2025.

The cost to install solar energy panels at the Farley Building, which houses Framingham Public Schools’ Central Office, has been projected at $1.75 million. The Framingham School Committee’s FY25 capital budget request to Sisitsky included the Farley solar plan, but the project was deferred back in March. During a March 12 meeting with the City Council’s Finance Subcommittee, Sisitsky said the change was made to maintain a policy “which calls for spending no more than 5% of the operating budget on annual debt service.”

In turn, volunteers with Energize Framingham—a local group aiming to promote environmental education, outreach, and advocacy—drafted a petition to have Sisitsky reconsider the Farley deferral, along with deferrals for a $75,000 plan to study potential areas for additional clean energy developments as well as a $400,000 initiative to buy municipal electric vehicles and to create more EV charging spaces.

Lead for the group Aimee Powelka spoke on behalf of over 400 signatories of that petition during the May 7 City Council meeting. She contended that already-existing solar projects in Framingham—including the panels on the roof of the McAuliffe Library in addition to the panels at the Brophy and Fuller schools—are producing clean energy and saving money on local electric bills. Over time, she believes that the Farley project can do the same.

“This is an opportune time for solar on public buildings,” Powelka told Sisitsky and councilors.

“The Inflation Reduction Act enables municipalities to receive a 30% refund on the total cost of the solar installations, which completely changes the financial analysis of public solar projects.”

Details on a feasibility study for the Farley Building conducted by Cale and Solar Design Associates were outlined by Powelka during the meeting. The study showed that rebates and incentives for the plan would total more than $1 million, with annual savings due to electricity generated estimated at around $160,000.

The project payback window would be just shy of 5 years, according to the study, as the solar array could save close to $4 million over the course of 20 years.

The city would have to find the money to begin the project, but Powelka and petitioners still see the project as a positive for the city, as they hope it can act as a way to initiate further solar infrastructure developments.

“We acknowledge that this is a challenging budget year, but the Farley solar project has been requested in the capital budget since fiscal year ’22,” Powelka continued.

“If we are not willing to invest in clean energy projects that saves our taxpayers money on a consistent basis, then we are losing our most valuable resource of time.”

Following Powelka’s presentation at the Memorial Building, Sisitsky expressed his support for the Farley solar idea and proposed a plan to get it into motion. He explained that he was previously working with “incomplete information”—he said he wasn’t aware of the federal compensation legislation that Powelka mentioned, for example—but added that he’s since worked with his administration to see how the development process can begin.

“We’re going to find the money to do the design and we will move ahead with it as quickly as we can and get this project done,” Sisitsky said.

The mayor mentioned that the city needs to create a design plan for the solar panels and consider the future use for the Farley Building prior to sending the solar project out to bid. In the meantime, he believes the money to begin the process should become available shortly after July 1.

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