Jack Bingham, managing member of Barrington Power, made one thing very clear about his view of investing in solar power. It is a good place to put away funds for retirement. “You can invest in all sorts of things,” he said. “But what is more reliable than solar power?”
Barrington Power has a very different business model than most other solar installers. The company website explains this by stating, “What sets Barrington Power apart in the new solar revolution is its ability to provide a variety of solutions to prospective commercial, municipal and not-for-profit organizations. Businesses can avoid capital commitments altogether, or they can benefit from structured investments to maximize potential financial returns when they do invest. Municipalities, public schools, fire stations, maintenance operations, churches, hospitals, and clinics can take advantage of government subsidies and either reduce the capital cost of renewable energy investments or bypass them altogether.”
Looking beyond the investments, however, Barrington Power is mission-driven. Both Jack Bingham and the company’s financial expert, David Russell, are “keenly aware of the urgent needs in addressing climate change. Our goal is to do whatever we can to support renewable energy. That begins with solar electric power and quickly moves to distributive power, storage and sustainability.”
Barrington Power’s expertise is in the specific engineering and management needed to develop the projects. What it cannot do, it outsources, as it hires the contractors to do the work. At the same time, it sources the materials that are needed for a project. Because of this approach, it is not tied to a limited design that is adapted to all projects regardless of suitability. It can use the best resources available, whatever they may be, and whatever technologies they use. A project can be different from those that have been built before, but with the right contractors, it can be done by experts familiar with the technologies.
The solar systems that Barrington Power has built have mostly gone into central New Hampshire, with some in neighboring areas of Vermont. As to the types of customers, Bingham said, “Most of our customers are municipal and schools, but we are starting to do more farms. USDA has a fair amount of money for grants and rebates. There is also money from the state. Some can get a lot of grant money.”
The projects Barrington Power has done have ranged in size from 16 kilowatts (kW) to 3.3 megawatts. To illustrate how it works, it uses one system that it installed as an example. That was a 145-kW array at the Mount Ascutney Hospital in Windsor, Vermont. The hospital was unable to take advantage of tax incentives because as a non-profit it paid no taxes. On the other hand, Barrington power, a for-profit company, can take the tax benefits and owns the array. Because of this arrangement, the hospital can get its electricity at significant cost reductions without any need for up-front financial outlays.
Barrington Power also offers preventative maintenance services for systems of commercial customers that are greater than 40kW. These are offered under annual maintenance agreements. They include inspections of everything from solar panels and inverters to the vegetation, drainage, and fences. A customer can take an option for a contract for corrective maintenance, as well.
Today, some larger companies are suffering from a lack of solar modules, while the federal government investigates the sources of modules and the question of whether they are avoiding proper tariff payments. When he was asked about this, Bingham pointed out that solar panel prices have jumped from 38¢ per watt to 55¢ per watt, which is a big increase, but apart from some of the really large solar projects, the industry is still taking orders for new systems. He also expressed some regrets about the state of the industry in this country, explaining that we really should have established the solar industry better in years gone by. He added, “I don’t see how we get the American solar panel industry back.”
Bingham is very concerned about the problems of climate change and security. He said, “We need major solutions to problems, and they are not coming fast enough.” In particular, he said, “We need new storage for solar and wind.” His company, Barrington Power, is working on taking on the problems and finding solutions.
Barrington Power’s website is barringtonpower.com.