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The Largest School Solar Array in Vermont

A flyover view of the St. Albans Town Educational Center’s array. Courtesy of SunCommon.

A flyover view of the St. Albans Town Educational Center’s array. Courtesy of SunCommon.

By Green Energy Times staff

The St. Albans Town Educational Center (SATEC) has an impressive new solar array on the roof. In fact, it can claim to be the largest solar array for any school in the state of Vermont.

The 2,029 photovoltaic panels in the array have a total capacity of 640 kilowatts. They all sit on the roof of the SATEC building, creating a really impressive sight. They also are expected to save the school system about $400,000 over the term of the lease. With financing provided by a private investor, there was no initial cost to the school system, so having the array is all savings.

There are 750 students in the school, which serves students at the kindergarten through eighth grade level. The solar array will provide all the power the school needs, with some to spare. The extra will go to Bellows Free Academy, the high school in St. Albans.

The Maple Run School District is a newly-formed system that includes both schools, along with four others. Dr. Kevin Dirth, the school district’s superintendent, said that the work on solar for the schools of St. Albans is just beginning. “Our newly merged school district has also approved projects at St. Albans City School and Collins Perley Sports Complex. Why not put our rooftops and parking lots to work, powering the education of our 2700 students?”

SATEC’s eighth grade class attended an inauguration ceremony for the system. Principal Angela Stebbins said the class had been spending time focusing on the issues of energy, pollution, and climate change. Four students in the eighth grade spoke about the issue of climate change, saying their research had shown it was a real problem that had to be addressed.

SunCommon, which may be Vermont’s largest solar installer, put the system in. The company is a Certified B Corporation, and has a triple bottom line that includes people and planet along with profit. With headquarters in a net-positive building in Waterbury, Vermont, it has about 100 employees. The company stresses a belief that everyone has a right to a healthy environment and that renewable energy is a starting point for that vision. It says it has a mission to use its business as a force for good.

While SunCommon was building the array on SATEC, it looked elsewhere in the community of St. Albans for other possible customers. By doing business in the same community at the same time, it could realize the potential benefits of a solarize campaign, both for itself and for those customers. When a number of customers have installations done in the same community at the same time, the resulting efficiencies keep costs down for everyone.

SunCommon’s web site is http://www.suncommon.com.

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