Check out the largest solar canopy in Vermont, operated by Encore Renewable Energy

Encore Renewables

Vermont’s largest solar canopy to date, built by a public-private partnership for the Science Museum on the Burlington waterfront, has commenced generation of electricity. The 156 kWp solar carport at the ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain employs innovative two-sided panels that capture reflected light as well as the direct rays of the sun, increasing its output. It was constructed at the same time as a new parking lot and a state-of-the-art stormwater pollution control system built by ECHO and the City of Burlington to help improve the water quality in Burlington’s inner harbor.

“We are so pleased to have been able to work with ECHO and the City of Burlington in delivering this important project,” said Chad Farrell, Chief Executive Officer of Burlington-based Encore Renewable Energy, which built and will operate the array. “This project is a strong example of the forward-looking thinking and action that we need from municipalities, non-profits and other organizations below the national level, to advance the clean energy economy and address the negative impacts of climate change.”

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The solar canopy project required complex engineering. Encore had to design for varying lakefront water levels, high winds, specific truck and bus traffic patterns at the Science Museum, and existing underground infrastructure. Due to ECHO’s location in Burlington’s previously industrialized waterfront, soil and water quality were continuously monitored throughout construction, in strict adherence to the State of Vermont’s regulatory process for environmentally contaminated property.

“The opportunity is finding ways to take urban settings in which we already have high land use, like a parking lot, and turning it into renewable power production,” said Phelan Fretz, Executive Director of ECHO.

The project design called for innovative bifacial, or two-sided, solar panels to increase the electricity generated by capturing albedo light, the short-wave solar radiation reflected from the parking lot, parked vehicles and nearby lake surface. This higher output will increase the overall savings for the Science Museum.

“We are thrilled to support ECHO’s mission, and their commitment to continued education to improve energy production, land use development and water quality management,” said Farrell.

Encore was responsible for coordinating and managing all aspects of the project including navigating the complex lakefront environmental and geotechnical issues, project design, permitting, financing, construction, and commissioning. In addition, Encore and one of its financing partners will own, operate and maintain the project.

“This is a great project that advances many of the City’s key goals, from the protection of Lake Champlain through better stormwater facilities, to new solar capacity that helps move us toward our goal of becoming a Net Zero Energy City, to additional attractions in the heart of our vibrant waterfront,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “The City is proud to have played a role in this project, and I am very thankful for the hard work of ECHO and Encore in getting it done.”

ECHO was Vermont’s first LEED certified building when it was built in 2003. The building already features solar panels on the roof, natural lighting, passive heating and cooling, smart lighting, and specially controlled HVAC systems, built from renewable materials and locally sourced supplies.

— Solar Builder magazine

This just-commissioned Vermont landfill solar site was more than five years in the making

Brattleboro Landfill_EncoreRenewableEnergy

The Brattleboro, Vermont, landfill solar project was energized on June 30, 2018 and is now producing clean, renewably generated electricity. Officials from Windham Solid Waste Management District, along with multiple towns, schools and non-profits securing financial benefits associated with the project, celebrated its commissioning at a ribbon cutting ceremony today. It was also attended by numerous government officials and those responsible for developing the project.

Project details

The 5.7MWp (5MWac) project was jointly developed by Sky Solar and Encore Renewable Energy. Encore is a Burlington, Vermont-based clean energy development company and certified B-Corp. Sky Solar Holdings, a global solar investment company, designed, funded, and managed the project construction, and will serve as the long-term owner and operator.

The solar project is sited on the closed and capped landfill owned by the Windham Solid Waste Management District, located on Old Ferry Road, an industrial park at the north end of Brattleboro, Vermont. With limited development potential, the landfill has been transformed into an innovative energy park, serving as an example for responsible siting of distributed energy resources.


“The project is the culmination of more than 5 years of work, much of it by volunteer representatives to Windham Solid Waste Management District,” said Robert Spencer, Executive Director. “To build a solar array on a closed and capped landfill requires use of support structures that do not penetrate the landfill cap, so we have over 3,000 concrete ballasts supporting around 16,000 solar panels,” he said.

With the passage of Act 99 in 2014, the Vermont legislature began encouraging exactly this type of solar array siting — expanding the net metering program to allow for solar arrays of up to 5 MW on closed landfills. This legislation put the Brattleboro landfill site on a level playing field with typical undeveloped greenfield sites, and provides the District with a unique opportunity to utilize the property while securing meaningful cost savings for multiple public sector entities in the region, including towns of Brattleboro, Wilmington, Readsboro, Vernon, Wardsboro, Dummerston, Halifax, and Newfane, schools in Brattleboro, Vernon, Putney , Marlboro and Landmark colleges, and non-profits including the Brattleboro Retreat.

The solar array is part of Vermont’s industry-leading group net-metering program. These public sector customers will receive net metering credits on electric bills for specified meters at a significant discount compared to their value. It is estimated that, in aggregate, these customers will save approximately $375,000 in the first year of project operation, with the opportunity for significantly increased additional savings over the 25-year contract period. In addition, the District will receive annual lease revenue for hosting the project that will be used to advance the District’s work in recycling, composting, education, and perhaps future renewable energy from an anaerobic digester for food scraps.

Encore Renewable Energy, a local clean energy company focused on commercial-scale solutions on challenged properties such as landfills, served as the development partner on the project and facilitated the execution of lease and net metering credit purchase agreements for Sky Solar, which managed construction, financing and operations of the project.

Sky Solar teamed up with Encore Renewable Energy to fund the project and become its long-term owner. Sky is a clean energy development company, that currently owns and operates over 50 facilities in the US, Canada, Caribbean and South America, with another 100 in various development stages.

— Solar Builder magazine

Top 6 Solar Projects of the Week (Oct. 10 – Oct. 14)

solect solar commercial install

New England Apple Installs 300-kW Solar System via Solect Energy

New England Apple Products, the largest cider mill in New England and an industry veteran for more than a hundred years, has partnered with Solect Energy of Hopkinton, Mass., to install a 300-kW solar energy system on the roof of its Leominster facility. The solar array is expected to cover approximately 90 percent of the company’s annual electricity use.

New England Apple has been grinding and squeezing apples in the area since before the advent of modern electricity, adapting over the years in a variety of ways. Aware of the environmental benefits, and with key partners successfully going solar, the company opted to invest in a system for their own operations.
New England Apple Products is projected to save $40,000 annually on its electricity bill, and is able to take advantage of state and federal tax and financial incentives, including SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Certificates), which are financial incentives based on the amount of solar energy the system generates.

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Merril Farms adds 1.6-MW system while preserving acreage

Merrill Farms, a fourth-generation Salinas, Calif., vegetable and berry grower, is going to generate approximately $60,000 per acre of revenue annually and achieve gross energy savings of approximately $12 million over 25 years thanks to a solar system just installed by Alta Energy. Alta Energy worked with Merrill Farms to site the solar systems on mostly unproductive areas of two ranches in order to preserve as much fertile acreage for crop production as possible.

ALTA EnergyThe combined size of the solar systems at Merrill Farms will be 1.6 MW and will offset nearly 80 percent of the electricity consumption on two large growing sites. The systems will utilize just six acres of farmland, most of which is unproductive, at these ranches.

“My family has been stewards of the land since 1933,” said Ross Merrill, CEO of Merrill Farms. “We intend to continue this tradition using best practices and new technologies. When I sat down with the Alta Energy team, they analyzed 13 of our growing operations and facilities, went through their financial analysis of our solar potential and identified the optimal sites. After this analysis, I saw clearly that solar was a ‘no brainer’ for our growing operations. Alta Energy cut through the complexity of all the variables in a solar project, showed us various trade-offs and options, explained ways to complete the projects efficiently and profitably, and expedited the deployment process.”

Merrill Farms gained further financial benefits by utilizing the 30 percent federal Income Tax Credit and accelerated depreciation, and choosing a financing structure that required virtually no money down and a loan that will be paid off by the energy savings.

Alta Energy is an independent renewable energy analytics and procurement company that enables commercial farmers to identify and complete cost-effective renewable energy projects with confidence.

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Two Vermont municipal electric departments going solar

Encore renewable energyEncore Renewable Energy announced the commissioning of two separate 1.4-MWp solar arrays for the Town of Stowe Electric Department and Village of Hyde Park Electric Department, respectively. Both projects were financed with low interest debt under the US Treasury Department’s Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) program.

The low cost of capital associated with the CREBs financing, along with cost savings afforded by the concurrent development and construction of the two projects, will allow both municipal electric departments to own these assets at generation costs well below market rates for Purchase Power Agreements for similarly sized third-party owned projects. The projects will also afford both utilities with protection against compliance payments under the State of Vermont’s recently enacted Renewable Energy Standard.

“I reached out to Encore Renewable Energy early in the concept phase of the project and they worked diligently with The Village of Hyde Park toward completing the project development process and without cost to the Village to find the best site possible for our solar project and subsequently to support the public approval process for the project,” said Carol Robertson, General Manager of The Village of Hyde Park.

Encore was responsible for coordinating and managing all aspects of the projects including siting, design, permitting, financing, construction and commissioning activities. Encore also ran a competitive auction process to secure the most qualified construction contractor at the lowest price possible for both projects. The Stowe project is sited on an abandoned portion of the Town of Stowe gravel pit.

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PCI solar rooftop

PCI Solar completes three PV projects for Holt of California

PCI Solar completed three solar electric systems for Holt of California and Amec Foster Wheeler. The systems, totaling 125 kW and located at Holt’s locations in Vacaville, Roseville, and Pleasant Grove, were designed to offset a large majority of each facilities’ electrical usage. Amec Foster Wheeler developed the project and assisted in preliminary research and design. PCI Solar is a division of Performance Contracting Group, a specialty building contractor with over $1 Billion in annual revenues.

The system in Vacaville consists of 114 Renesola 310 watt modules mounted on a standing seam roof with no roof penetrations. The southern facing half of the system is flush mounted to the standing seam while the other half is tilted up on the northern side to face south. Solectria inverters convert the DC electricity to AC.

The system at Roseville utilized the same number of modules as Pleasant Grove. It included a ballast mount tilt up system, but also incorporated a flush mounted section on the curved standing seam roof. Pleasant Grove utilized a ballasted tilt up solution that did not penetrate the roof. The system is composed of 144 Renesola 310 watt modules.

These three projects are the first phase roll-out of solar for Holt of California. Holt and Amec Foster Wheeler plan to build two more phases of solar projects in order to offset the majority of Holt’s electricity usage statewide.

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UET battery microgridPowerful solar+storage microgrid installed at Naval base

Long-term energy resiliency has been achieved at Naval Base Ventura County at Port Hueneme, Calif., after the installation of UniEnergy Technologies’ (UET) grid-scale advanced vanadium flow battery. The renewable energy generation and storage project supports a U.S. military strategic effort to implement renewable energy and greater energy security across its operations.

The solar-plus-storage project includes a 6-MW solar installation combined with a 4.5-MW/18 mMWh UET UniSystem in a microgrid. In return for a low-cost land lease of 44 acres on Navy property, the Navy has the right to utilize the power, energy and other attributes of the storage-enabled microgrid in the event of a grid outage, to support critical loads, even if an outage extends weeks or months, without requiring external fuel supplies. Under normal grid operations, the solar and storage capacity generated by the microgrid will be purchased by a third party off-taker. In addition to providing the energy storage system, UET will own and operate the facility working closely with the Navy’s Renewable Energy Program Office (REPO).

UET provides turn-key, megawatt-scale energy storage solutions that deliver the full range of power and energy applications for military, utility, independent power producer, microgrid and commercial and industrial customers.

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solect solar install YMCA

YMCA enters PPA with Solect Energy

The Clark Memorial YMCA has partnered with Solect Energy of Hopkinton, Mass., and PowerOptions of Boston to install two solar energy systems totaling 275 kW on the roof of its fieldhouse and main building in Winchendon. The solar arrays are expected to cover over 80 percent of the facility’s annual electricity use, and save the organization over $18,000 a year. Clark Memorial YMCA and Solect entered into a Power Purchase Agreement under which Solect owns and operates the solar array, and sells the power generated back to the organization at a reduced, fixed rate for a period of 20 years.

Prior to installing solar, the Clark Memorial YMCA had been doing its part to become more environmentally sustainable by encouraging recycling, conserving energy with responsible use policies, and recently converting the entire facility to LED lighting. The addition of solar is a significant step forward in the organization’s green initiatives.

In addition to this project, the Clark Y is also considering exploring further renewable energy initiatives, with the hopes of building a new youth center on campus powered by solar energy, as well as exploring ways to implement solar heating for their swimming pool, and water supply.

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— Solar Builder magazine

Encore Renewable Energy earns B Corp. Certification

Encore Renewable Energy has become a Certified B Corp., joining more than 1,700 leading businesses in 50 countries that have met rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.

Encore renewable energy“The B Corp certification is a measure of a company’s positive impact on the environment, its employees, and the communities in which it operates,” said Encore CFO Blake Sturcke. “We are proud to be included in a group of world-class peers focused on doing business better.”

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The purpose of B Corp certification, according to the nonprofit organization B Lab, is to “use business as a force for good.” Certified B Corporations meet high social and environmental standards, legally expand their corporate responsibilities to include consideration of stakeholder interests, and build collective voice through the power of the unifying B Corporation brand.

The evaluation process for Encore resulted in an overall score of 99 points, compared to the standard 80 points needed for certification.

“For nearly 10 years, our mission has been to foster sustainable community growth and advance clean energy through redevelopment projects, particularly on environmentally challenged and underutilized properties,” said Chad Farrell, Encore’s founder and President. “Part of what makes achieving this certification so meaningful is to be in the company of so many great companies that share these values.”

Encore is a Burlington, Vermont-based clean energy development company focusing on commercial, industrial and community-scale solar PV systems and 21st century solutions for underutilized property. Founded in 2007 as Encore Redevelopment, it specializes in the design, development, financing, permitting, and construction of renewable energy projects.

— Solar Builder magazine

Vermont developer rebrands as Encore Renewable Energy


Burlington, Vermont-based clean energy company Encore Redevelopment is rebranding as Encore Renewable Energy to focus more on commercial, industrial and community-scale solar PV systems.

The comprehensive rebrand reflects the completion of Encore’s transition from a traditional property redevelopment company to a singular focus on the development of new sources of clean energy – specifically, the development of commercial, industrial, and community-scale solar PV systems. Leveraging past work in the brownfields redevelopment arena, Encore’s projects are often connected to undervalued or underutilized properties, and therefore foster sustainable economic growth, environmental awareness, and community improvement.

“When Encore started in 2007, we focused on creating vibrant spaces out of contaminated or underused properties. Those values still inform our vision today,” said Chad Farrell, Encore Redevelopment President. “We’re really excited about partnering with investors, businesses and communities to do meaningful, impactful work around Vermont and elsewhere in the Northeast.”

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Founded in 2007 , the company now specializes in the development, financing, permitting, and construction management of renewable energy projects. Encore Renewable Energy has become a leading and fast-growing solar project development firm in Vermont. It has doubled in size in the past year, adding CFO Blake Sturcke, Project Developer Lindsay Warne, and Chad Nichols as Project Development Manager, and has plans to secure the talents of several additional key team members in 2016.

To reflect its growth and renewed focus, the company has launched a new website: