By George Harvey
The people at Crossroads Academy in Lyme, New Hampshire, have added a new photovoltaic (PV) array to help power its campus. The 40kW system is providing power for the campus. Its 144 solar panels are on the campus in three rows of a fixed ground mount. The story did not begin, and does not end, with the addition of a few PV panels and savings of a bit of money.
It happened that the Head of School, Jean Behnke, was retiring. During the course of her stay at the school, she had developed relationships with large numbers of people, and some of these wished to honor her for the work she had done there. One of the foundations that knew and appreciated her work offered to fund a legacy for the school in her honor. When she was asked what she would like that to be, she said she would like to see something that could benefit it both financially and educationally. This led to the idea of a solar array for the school. It would provide both electric power for the school and a demonstration of renewable energy to the students.
She knew the system she wanted would cost more than the first foundation was able to give, so she went to a second. There, she got a matching grant. With a little support from a rebate incentive, she was able to get the system she wanted.
“It is wonderful to leave a lasting legacy,” Behnke says. Given the lasting ability of solar systems, which seem to go on endlessly, it seems especially fitting to choose such a legacy.
The solar system was installed by Energy Emporium of Enfield, New Hampshire. Kim Quirk, who runs Energy Emporium, says this is the company’s largest installation to date. The needed paperwork was completed before the net-metering cap for Eversource, the local utility, was reached. Work began on actual installation at the beginning of summer 2015 and was completed in only a few weeks. At the time this is written, the final testing and approval by the utility is all that remains to turn the array on.
Quirk described this, saying, “It is a fun project and soon will be live on the public monitoring site.” Public monitoring means the students can look at the system from computers, seeing how much electricity is being generated at any time. They can compare the numbers on output with the weather outside, so they can see the difference between amounts of energy generated on sunny days and overcast days.
Lyme has been a leader in the New Hampshire solarize movement. In fact, a sidebar on page 10 of this issue of Green Energy Times shows that it is tied for first place for the total number of systems being installed, and is in second place on a per-capita basis. These numbers will change, of course, as we approach the finishes for the solarize programs involved. At the time of this writing, the 1,716 residents of Lyme had already accounted for purchase of 58 systems.
The Crossroads Academy solar array is not part of a solarize program, however. Its 40kW will have to be added to the capacity installed under the program to find out what Lyme has added.
We would like to offer our congratulations to Crossroads Academy and to Jean Behnke. Well done!