Locally-made in Plymouth, NH: Plymouth Village Water and Sewer District Awarded Large Grant for Solar PV
The Plymouth Village Water and Sewer District (PVWSD) and the Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative (PAREI) announce that the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has funded their joint proposal to install a 120kW solar photovoltaic (PV) system on the grounds of the district’s sewage treatment plant in Plymouth, NH. On December 20, 2013 the NH Governor and Executive Council approved the PUC’s recommendation to fund a large portion of this solar installation with funds in the amount of $317,980 from New Hampshire’s Renewable Energy Fund.
The Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative (PAREI) worked in partnership with PVWSD on responding to the PUC’s request for renewable energy proposals. According to Sandra Jones, Director of PAREI, “This annual request for proposals by the PUC is an excellent opportunity for municipalities, businesses and schools to seek funding for their renewable energy projects. It took two attempts to get this project approved, but we did it!”
According to Steve Kahl, chair of the PVWSD’s Board of Commissioners, who co-authored the PUC proposal with Jones, “This system will produce over 135,000kWh annually and will generate an estimated 135 renewable energy credits annually that can be sold on the REC market. It will save our ratepayers nearly $24,000 in electrical costs per year for the next 30 to 40 years. This is close to $1 million at today’s electric rates.”
PAREI is the project manager for the installation, working in partnership with Mauchly Electric of Plymouth, NH and Frase Electric of Sandwich, NH. “We will be installing a ground mounted system in the area that formerly housed the treatment plant’s compost building,” said Craig Cadieux, PAREI’s Energy Solutions Advisor. “The system will consist of over 440 panels and cover an area the size of a football field.”
The project will benefit from a generous financial solar incentive from the NH Electric Coop (NHEC). NHEC’s line design team met with PVWSD staff recently to review the procedures and equipment needed to tie the solar PV system in to NHEC’s electrical lines at the facility’s electrical transformer. According to Cadieux, “This system is a grid-tied, net-metered system with no batteries. Whenever the solar system is generating more power than the treatment plant is using, the electric meter will run backwards providing a credit for the account. When the sun is not out or when the facility is using more than it’s making from the solar panels, the facility will use these credits.”
“Net-metering is the same method being used by the district’s office on North Main Street, which is operating as net-zero energy” said Kahl. “This means that solar PV on the office roof generates more power than is used on an annual basis to heat, cool, and provide power to the office, saving district ratepayers an additional estimated $4,000 per year for the next 30 to 40 years [up to] $160,000.” PAREI was the project manager on the Energy Efficiency Community Block Grant that funded the district office project in 2011.
As part of the installation, PAREI will be holding public information sessions to educate the public on the specifics of this project as well as the benefits of using solar energy. Ricky Russo, a senior at Plymouth State University studying Environmental Policy, has been assigned as the project’s student intern and will be helping to organize these educational events.
Installation of the solar array is scheduled to get underway in April, with power generation expected in June. “It will be one of the largest solar PV installations in the State of New Hampshire,” Jones said. “A project like this one will secure Plymouth’s growing reputation for supporting the use of clean, localized renewable energy.” Plymouth already has solar PV on the town library, elementary school, riverfront amphitheatre pavilion, and PVWSD office in addition to many private installations of solar PV and solar hot water on homes and businesses.
For more information about the Plymouth 120kW PV installation, call PAREI at 603-536-5030 or the district at 603-536-1733. Updates will be posted on the district webpage (pvwsd.org). For information about the NH PUC’s annual request for renewable energy proposals visit the Sustainable Energy Division Home Page at http://www.puc.state.nh.us/