On an otherwise unremarkable day last December, something powerful happened in the city of Belfast.
That was when the city’s new 5-acre solar installation went online at the site of the still-under-construction public works facility off Crocker Road. And when it did, the 660-kilowatt project — along with two other solar projects built within the past few years — allowed the city to offset almost 90 percent of its municipal electric costs.
It’s a good feeling, said Belfast City Councilor Eric Sanders, a founding member of the city’s energy committee. Since it was formed half a decade ago, the committee has been working to reduce the amount of fossil fuels used by the city and to lower greenhouse gas and air pollutions emissions there.
“Every time we start getting meters clicking, we say to ourselves, that’s what’s supposed to happen,” he said. “I view solar like people probably did telephone poles 100 years ago: It’s going to happen. How do we best place ourselves as a leader for our citizens?”
In a way, Belfast’s answer to that question has been its willingness to experiment with ideas and to find people who are able to turn those ideas into realities. The city started doing that about five years ago, after City Councilor Mike Hurley started thinking about the amount of money spent every year on energy costs.