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Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Served with a Side of Sunshine:

Hoyt Community Care Center’s New Solar Panels Help Feed Hundreds in the Granite State

Aerial view of the Hoyt Community Care Center’s 42 panel, 12.81kW photovoltaic rooftop solar array which is expected to cover 60% of its electric load. Image: Eric Rudman, Sol-Air.

Chris Gillespie

Last March, the residents of Newport, New Hampshire made statewide headlines for approving the largest municipal solar project in the Granite State. This March, Newport is garnishing attention for a solar installation that is much smaller in scale but perhaps even more meaningful for many in western New Hampshire.

The Hoyt Community Care Center, which is home to the Newport Food Pantry and a community learning center, recently started harnessing solar energy to power its facilities, thanks to the help of their neighbors at Sol-Air.

“We’re a locally owned and operated company,” said Sol-Air Systems Design Specialist Ian Pahl. “As a small company, we truly care about giving back to our community organizations.”

For the team at the Hoyt Community Care Center, partnering with Sol-Air for the project was an obvious choice. Founded in 2006 as New England Solar Concepts, Sol-Air specializes in the residential installation of photovoltaic solar panels, heat pumps and solar energy battery solutions. Originally, Sol-Air only serviced New Hampshire, however, they have recently expanded into Vermont.

“Start-to-finish, every step of the installation went smoothly,” said Pahl. “We were a little delayed by a winter storm, but other than that, everything went very well.”

The Hoyt Community Care Center’s rooftop array is currently live. The forty-two panel, 12.81kW photovoltaic system is expected to yield 1,300 kilowatt-hours a month, equaling approximately 15,000 kilowatt-hours a year. Overall, Sol-Air estimates that the array will cover roughly 60% of the Hoyt Community Care Center’s energy load.

Providing over half of the Hoyt Community Care Center’s energy is no small feat, as the Newport Food Pantry utilizes quite a few heavy-duty kitchen appliances, including several large electric refrigerators which store perishable goods such as meat and produce.

In fact, now that they will be spending less to power the refrigerators, the Newport Food Pantry team plans to redirect those savings towards purchasing more food to put inside the refrigerators.

“We’re going to save money in one place and spend it in another,” Newport Food Pantry director Jim Demers told the Claremont, NH Eagle Times in November.

The additional food is sure to make a positive difference for families in Newport, as well as in the nearby towns of Goshen, Croyden, Lempster, Grantham, Sunapee, Washington, Acworth, Unity and Springfield, who are also served by the Newport Food Pantry.

“Working with the Hoyt Community Care Center has been incredibly rewarding for all of us here at Sol-Air,” said Pahl. Sol-Air also helped the Hoyt Community Care Center apply and get approved for an interconnection agreement with Eversource, which will allow the Hoyt to transfer excess solar energy back into the utility when sunshine is abundant.

Pahl has firsthand knowledge of how accessible solar energy can be even for those who are operating on a budget, as Sol-Air has installed several systems for local non-profits, such as Lake Sunapee Protective Association and Sanctuary Dairy Ice Cream of Sunapee.

“A lot of people think that solar energy is really expensive and is therefore unobtainable for charities or nonprofits, but there are grants out there that will help make it all possible.”

The solar installation at Hoyt Community Care Center, for example, was completed with funding from the New Hampshire Charitable Fund, specifically $30,000 from the Thomas W. Haas Fund and $10,000 from the Newport Charitable Fund.

Pahl contends that, in addition to saving money, charities and nonprofits can also stand to gain positive attention and nonverbally promote their mission by installing solar panels.

“[Going solar] is a great way for charities to stand out in their communities and be ‘put on the map,’ so to speak,” said Pahl. “I think it really conveys the values of a charity; mainly that they are serious about helping people and that they really care about the environment.”

Chris Gillespie is a contributing writer for Green Energy Times. He can be reached at chris@greenenergytimes.org.

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