Warner, NH is a unique example of what community and local is all about. How many times have you seen a sign on the door of your local bookstore that reads: “Come On In. Close the Door. We are SOLAR Air Conditioned”? They not only welcome the community to come on in to get some relief from the heat of the sun, but also share the energy they make from that sun in more ways than the air conditioning in the summertime.
You see, MainStreet Bookends is not only a community bookstore, but it is the second bookstore in the country to be 100% Solar. Their 11.52 kW system for the bookstore includes the creation of the Jim Mitchell Community Park, which is named after owner Katherine Nevin’s brother, and is working with Main Street, Warner Inc, and the Main Street Program for Warner. Together they will maintain the park and be able to keep it open for the general public.
The solar array will take care of all the energy needs throughout the park. including the reproduction 13th century Barn as a stage and amphitheater to be completed in the spring of 2013, lights, sound, and ambient lighting, and also taking care of the 3500 gallon rainwater collector which will irrigate the park.
Edible landscaping surrounding the Solar Collectors will be done in the spring as well, including a high tunnel greenhouse, fruit and nut trees, berries, all organic vegetables, compost, and an educational kiosk — to explain organic gardening, edible landscaping and the permaculture aspects as well.
The park, located just behind the store where the pole-mounted array was strategically placed, allows the tie into to the system to be a natural fit.
“This photovoltaic system serves as a model for other small businesses in New England as we all work to rebuild our local economies around energy self-sufficiency. It is a reflection of our longstanding commitment to community involvement and education,” said Neil Nevins, also owner of MainStreet Bookends.
The 11.52 kilowatt (KW) project was designed and developed by Harmony Energy Works Inc. of Hampton, NH. George Horrocks, Harmony Energy Works’ Project Engineer, stated that “Contrary to popular belief, solar power is a good choice for New England, which enjoys better solar exposure than even Germany – which is the world’s current leader in solar power. Once installed, a solar PV system will continue to generate free, clean energy for decades. It’s like locking in the world’s best pre-season utility rates for the next 25-40 years.” The electrical contractor for this project was Miner Electric of Stratham, NH.
This clean energy project for the community of Warner, was made possible through state and federal solar incentives, as well as an award from a USDA Rural Development (REAP) grant. Together they provided nearly three-quarters of the funds for the project. A local bank in Warner, Sugar River Bank, financed the rest, demonstrating their support for small, local businesses.
Nevins said that, “Being able to expand our business is in large part due to the federal grant initiatives made possible from this administration, and the support of our small, local bank. We are now reaping significant financial savings, becoming more self-sufficient in our energy needs, and hopefully serve as an example to the community.” MainStreet Bookends currently has five months of credit with the utility company, from what has been produced since January of 2102. Now, isn’t this just what a Local Sustainable Community is all about?