New Hampshire city adds new solar rooftop system, moves toward 100 percent renewable goal

new hampshire solar energy

One of New Hampshire’s largest solar arrays will save the city of Keene millions of dollars while generating enough power to offset the electric load of nearly 100 homes. The recently completed municipal project includes 2,010 solar panels on the rooftops of the Keene Ice center and adjacent Public Works Department building.

Last week, the Keene City Council approved a resolution that encourages the city and its residents to eventually generate 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources.

“This project is part of our work to have all electricity in Keene generated by sustainable renewable energy sources by 2030,” according to Keene Mayor Kendall Lane. “We are very excited to be working with ReVision Energy in this development and look forward to future projects promoting renewable energy.”

The Keene solar array represents the largest New Hampshire project installed last year by ReVision Energy. The public works building and the police department will use the generated solar power, which will offset a significant portion of the city’s electric load while transitioning Keene away from fossil fuels.

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“It is wonderful to see the City of Keene join the growing number of municipalities, businesses and homeowners that recognize the value in transitioning away from fossil fuel-based energy to local, renewable sources of energy,” said Elijah Garrison, ReVision Energy employee-owner and director of commercial and industrial sales. “These projects help build a stronger sense of community, reduce energy costs and, of course, they harness energy from the most abundant resource available. We commend Keene for setting a positive and forward-thinking example.”

The 643.2-kilowatt municipal project will generate close to 740,000-kilowatt hours of clean energy each year and will offset roughly 777,000 pounds of carbon pollution. Using solar power to generate electricity for the municipality is equivalent to taking 76 cars off the road each year or offsetting the carbon sequestered by 416 acres of forests or the carbon emissions from burning 817 barrels of oil.

Financing for the $1.35 million solar array is provided by a group of local impact investors through ReVision Solar Impact Partners, which own the array through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the City of Keene. Under the terms of the PPA, the city initially agrees to purchase electricity at a negotiated rate below the cost of grid electricity, thereby saving taxpayer money without any capital expense. After five years, the city will have the option to purchase the system at a significant discount, enabling the municipality to generate free solar power for decades to come.

The array is expected to save taxpayers approximately $3.5 million over the life of the system if the city exercises its future purchase option. The PPA enables Keene to leverage the economic and environmental benefits of solar power while giving the impact partners an opportunity to make community investments that align with their commitment to environmental sustainability.

— Solar Builder magazine

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

RPCS turns to TerraSmart ground screws on challenging Nebraska solar tracker project

RPCS Array tracker Nebraska

RPCS partnered with GenPro Energy Solutions and the City of Atkinson to build a 209-kW solar array in Nebraska on a particularly challenging site. The city formerly used the Atkinson-owned site for fill, a place where soil, trees, and debris were brought then covered with dirt. This created embedment depths up to 30 feet — three times the norm — which would need longer than normal I-beams that would add significant costs for construction and material. Moreover, loose soil and debris could cause refusal of the post for a regular piledriver.

The City of Atkinson also wanted a tracked system that could provide enough energy to offset the energy consumption of their Water Treatment Plant. Through NPPD’s Buy-Sell Solar Rider, Atkinson can create long-term cash flow for the city through the production of solar energy.

Project developer GenPro Energy Solutions, which specializes in municipal solar development throughout the Midwest, brings design and custom energy solution integration expertise to the project while RPCS helped drive a creative solution to a complex engineering issue.

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The solution was to use the DuraTrack HZ v3 single-axis solar tracker by Array Technologies, supplied by RPCS. Array’s mounting technology ensured up to a 20 to 25 percent increase in energy production over fixed-tilt systems. RPCS designs and installs Array tracker systems throughout the country, with hundreds of projects completed to date in the utility and distributed generation markets.

RPCS nebraska solar project

To overcome the embedment issue, the project features TerraSmart‘s ground screw foundation posts, a seamless solution to the challenging nature of the site’s subsurface conditions. TerraSmart and Array solar trackers were integrated for the first time on this project, a partnership forged with the help of RPCS. TerraSmart’s ground screws have a better ability to resist uplift than I-beams in loose soil and can drill into debris, reducing upfront construction costs and eliminating subsurface risks.

“This project is a great example of how teamwork, engineering, and innovative solutions can help overcome site challenges and result in the most efficient design for all parties involved. GenPro’s value engineering, Array’s superior grade tolerance, and TerraSmart’s unique foundation posts all allowed for a system that will maximize power production for the City of Atkinson,” says RPCS Sales Director Dylan Wraga. “There were underground challenges that TerraSmart’s solution was well suited to, and combined with Array’s reliable architecture this system will be producing clean power for many years to come.”

— Solar Builder magazine

Duke Energy Florida brings massive Hamilton Solar Power Plant online

duke energy florida hamilton power plant

The new 74.9-megawatt (MW) Hamilton Solar Power Plant in Jasper, Fla., is now operation, according to Duke Energy. The plant’s carbon-free power is enough to energize more than 20,000 homes at peak production.

The Hamilton plant is part of the company’s strategic commitment to install or acquire 700 MW of solar energy in Florida through 2022, helping ensure residents have increasingly clean and diverse power sources. DEF currently owns and operates nearly 100 MW of solar energy resources throughout its regulated service territory.

“Duke Energy solar projects bring the greatest amount of renewable energy on line for customers in the most efficient and economical way,” said Catherine Stempien, Duke Energy Florida (DEF) state president. “Building solar power plants like Hamilton is part of our ongoing strategy to offer sustainable, diverse and smarter energy solutions that our customers have told us they value.”

The company broke ground for the Hamilton plant in July 2018 and brought it online Dec. 22. The project, originally developed by Tradewind Energy Inc., was completed by Duke Energy.

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Also in 2018, DEF announced plans to break ground in 2019 on the Columbia Solar Power Plant in Fort White, Fla. It will be developed by Core Solar. DEF will own, operate and maintain the 74.9-MW facility, which is expected to be fully operational in March 2020.

In addition to expanding its solar investments, Duke Energy is making strategic, targeted investments in battery storage technology, transportation electrification to support the growing U.S. adoption of electric vehicles, and a modernized power grid to deliver the diverse and reliable energy solutions customers want and need.

Duke Energy Florida is helping more than 400 residential and business customers per month interconnect their private solar systems to the local electric grid through its renewables service center, which has made it easier for customers to interconnect.

— Solar Builder magazine

City of Greenville, Illinois, partners with Sunpin Solar on its first major solar project

Sunpin logo

The City of Greenville, Ill., and signed ab option and lease agreement with the California-based solar developer Sunpin Solar for a potential major solar energy project site within the community.

Approximately 70 miles south of Springfield, Ill., this 150-acre solar site will host an approximate 30-40 MW solar system with an estimated annual production of up to 60 million kWh. The total annual production could power as many as 6,600 homes.

“We are honored to introduce ourselves and our commitment to the Greenville community through solar,” says XJ Chen, Vice President of Development at Sunpin Solar. “This is our first ground-mount solar project in the State of Illinois, and our goal is to bring more local jobs, solar education opportunities, tax revenues, and other benefits to Greenville in addition to the clean energy itself.”

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“The City of Greenville is always dedicated to bringing more benefits to our communities. What Sunpin Solar is able to offer is aligned with our sustainability initiatives and a potential benefit to many in our community,” Bill Walker, Economic Development Coordinator of the City of Greenville. “The staff at the City of Greenville have been and will continue working with Sunpin Solar closely to better understand how the process works and let our community learn more about how solar energy can be a benefit.”

The City of Greenville is supporting Sunpin Solar in terms of securing energy off-takers from not only the Greenville Community but also from the larger region including Central and Western Illinois. Additionally, Sunpin is committed to working with local educational institutions to prepare the next generation of engineers and tradesmen and tradeswomen for jobs in the green, clean energy sector.

Recognized as a 2018 Top 5 Solar Developer in the U.S. by Solar Power World, Sunpin Solar is a solar development, investment, and asset management company. As a turnkey solar developer and investor, Sunpin Solar focuses on greenfield development, acquisitions, financing, and construction of commercial and utility-scale solar photovoltaic projects throughout the United States. Sunpin Solar is always looking for opportunities to partner with local communities to demonstrate the benefits of solar energy.

— Solar Builder magazine