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Copeland Furniture Solar Update

The 500kW solar installation is meeting expectations for Copeland Furniture’s manufacturing plant in Bradford, VT. Catamount Solar installed the system. The plant is seen in the upper left corner. Photo: Isaac Copeland.

The 500kW solar installation is meeting expectations for Copeland Furniture’s manufacturing plant in Bradford, VT. Catamount Solar installed the system. The plant is seen in the upper left corner. Photo: Isaac Copeland.

By N. R. Mallery

The August issue of Green Energy Times led with an article on a solar array at Copeland Furniture in Bradford, Vermont. The array was, at that time, nearly ready to come online but had not yet been connected. The moment of commissioning had come, but Tim Copeland had not yet had the experience of seeing his “meter run backwards.” Now, everything is operating, and we wanted to revisit to ask him how it feels to see that.

The initial production is a short summertime experience, of course, with bright sun and long days. It is hard to project annual production from that. Nevertheless, the initial output report of 95,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) lets you know that something is happening right. That little sliver of a year produced a bit over $18,000 worth of electricity, under net-metering.

We can also think of that 95,000 kWh in terms of the number of coal it would have taken to produce it. According to the EPA, it takes 1.04 pounds of coal to produce 1 kWh of electric energy, so Copeland’s array saved over 95,000 pounds of coal. (Yes, we know; Vermont’s electricity does not come from coal, but reducing use in Vermont has implications for the entire grid. That is a story for another time.)

When we asked Copeland how the experience went, he spoke of his installer, Catamount Solar. “They came well-recommended by our neighbor, Farm-Way.” He summed up how they met his expectations by saying, “The folks at Catamount struck me as honest, straight forward, competent and responsive to our concerns. Our opinion of them has not changed.”

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