Green Energy Times Staff
A new solar array belonging to the Plymouth Village Water and Sewer District (PVWSD) began producing power in December. It was built with the help of a coalition of a large number of people and organizations. As the second largest solar array in NH Electric Co-op territory, it provides a model for other groups who might wish to work together on a similar goal.
The project started in 2012, when the PVWSD started looking into ways to reduce costs. Officials there turned to the Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative (PAREI) and New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC) for help.
PAREI and PVWSD worked together to get a $317,000 grant from New Hampshire’s Renewable Energy Fund, which is administered by the NH Public Utilities Sustainable Energy Division. The initial application was made in 2012, and the grant was awarded on their second go-around in December of 2013 with a completion goal of December 2014.
The next step was getting the right people involved. PAREI put its expertise to use on this part of the project. “We put together an outstanding team of solar installers to get the work done and the staff at the Water and Sewer Treatment Plant assisted with some of the prep work too,” Sandra Jones, Director of PAREI, explained. “It’s been a wonderful partnership with lots of interest and lots of public support.”
PAREI provided all project coordination and a local in-house crew to design the site, conduct site work and assist with the assembly of the ballasted solar racking. Frase Electric of Sandwich assisted with system design, installed the inverters and completed all of the AC wiring to the meter that records the Renewable Energy Certificates generated by the system. Larry Mauchly and his apprentice William Adams of Mauchly Electric of Plymouth provided installation, grounding and wiring of the solar photovoltaic modules. Staff from the PVWSD plant assisted with numerous tasks, including trenching, unloading deliveries, ballast block transportation, and preparing the maintenance garage for installation of five 20KW SolarEdge Inverters. The NH Electric Coop provided technical support, line design/tie-in and a $20,000 incentive through their Commercial Solar PV Incentive Program.
PAREI also made sure to source services and supplies locally and nationally wherever possible. The solar panels are American made from Solarworld in Oregon, and the ballasted racking system was made from Schletter in North Carolina. Among the New Hampshire businesses that supplied goods or services were Agway, Ashland Lumber, Café Monte Alto, Chase Street Market, Community Guaranty Savings Bank (financial services), Dekal Stickers, Latulippe Construction, Michie Corporation (made the concrete blocks), Needham Electric, Rand’s Hardware and Provan & Lorber – Engineers & Planners.
The 440 panels in the new array give it a capacity of 121 kilowatts, and are expected to produce about a quarter of the needs of the PVWSD, or 145,000 kilowatt-hours per year. The array’s output can be viewed in real time by visiting http://bit.ly/15FiwoK.