How Derry’s Net-Zero Task Force Helped
Tupelo Music Hall Become the First Solar-Powered
Performance Venue in New Hampshire
By Chris Gillespie
Tupelo Music Hall’s journey to making history as the first solar-powered concert hall in the state started not unlike the careers of many famous musicians: with an invitation for collaboration. The hall is in Derry, NH.
“We started the Net-Zero Task Force focusing on municipal buildings and schools, but another one of our goals was to find out who else in the community would be interested in investing in solar,” said Town Councilor and Vice Chairman of Derry’s Net-Zero Task Force Joshua Bourdon. “We were looking for local businesses that were popular and extremely busy.”
Approaching Tupelo Music Hall, according to Bourdon, was an obvious choice. The award-winning multi-genre performing arts space moved to a renovated facility in Derry in early 2017 after thirteen years of building statewide acclaim in a repurposed nineteenth century farmhouse in the neighboring town of Londonderry.
“Tupelo is such a draw to town. They’re a face of the community,” said Bourdon of the venue that hosts over 200 nationally-recognized music and comedy acts per year. “A few years ago, when they relocated from Londonderry, they could have gone anywhere, and they chose Derry.”
Scott Hayward, Tupelo Music Hall’s owner, was receptive to what Bourdon and the Net-Zero Task Force had to say. At the time, Hayward and his team had already found success using exclusively LED lights in the facility, installing energy-efficient appliances and using biodegradable packing materials for the venue’s food and beverages.
“When we built the new venue, we wanted it to be as energy-efficient as possible and find ways to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Hayward, adding that going solar was a goal, but that the timing needed to be right, as the new facility still needed some renovations done on its roof.
“From a purely financial perspective, solar panels are great because you just have to pay them off once and then you’re done,” said Hayward. “The sunshine is already there – why not utilize it?”
The project became infused with an extra sense of urgency when the Trump administration announced the tariffs on solar cell imports. Bourdon and his team “explained what was possible” to Hayward in terms of solar energy and took care of all of the initial legwork. Hayward says that Bourdon and his team, “streamlined the process and helped him understand what he was looking for” and even put him in touch with a list of companies specializing in solar panel installation.
“Derry is a business-friendly community. My team will do as much as possible to help you get settled in and thrive in our town, absolutely free of charge,” said Bourdon. “Any advice or help we can provide to local business owners, we will.”
Using the town-provided list, Hayward eventually decided that ReVision Energy was the ideal partner for his project.
“ReVision has been fantastic,” said Hayward. “They have provided us with everything we’ve needed to know and have been very thorough and super attentive throughout this whole process.”
Once the 313 rooftop solar panels go live this October, they will yield roughly 115,000 kilowatt-hours a year, providing enough energy to power the entire facility.
“Go big, or go home,” said Hayward when talking about the scale of the installation. “We are stewards of the world. What do we want to leave our kids—a junkyard? The more fossil fuels we burn, that’s what we’re creating. Solar energy now is way ahead of where it was only a few years ago, and we should embrace it.”
The ribbon-cutting ceremony for Tupelo Music Hall’s rooftop array took place on October 16th—yet another exciting event in a month that Hayward describes as “our biggest month of the year for shows and events,” with performances by The Wailers, George Winston, Livingston Taylor and Billy F. Gibbons from ZZ Top.
Although the music from these shows can’t be heard from Town Hall, the excitement has certainly carried. Said Bourdon, “We are thrilled that the owner of an extremely popular local business is leading by example and putting his money where his mouth is when it comes to clean energy.”
For more information on Tupelo Music Hall and tickets for upcoming shows, visit www.tupelomusichall.com.
For more information on the Derry Net-Zero Task Force, visit www.derrynh.org/net-zero-task-force.
Gillespie is a contributing writer for Green Energy Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.