New Hampshire Finally Gets Serious about Solar

Published in Penn Energy

A small town in the northwest corner of the state flips the switch on New Hampshire’s largest solar array.

New Hampshire Finally Gets Serious about Solar

On a warm November morning about 200 people gathered in the small town of Peterborough, N.H., to officially inaugurate the state’s largest PV solar array. The almost 1-MW project (942kW) was initiated by Borrego Solar, approved by the town by unanimous vote in July 2014, and completed by SunEdison, which purchased the project in 2015.

The energy generated by the array will meet 100 percent of the electricity needs of the town wastewater treatment plant with more to spare. The excess energy will be used to power the town house, the fire department and the library through a group net-metering arrangement recently approved by the New Hampshire public utility commission (PUC).

The project, which uses Canadian Solar panels, SMA inverters, racks from Sunlink and a monitoring system by Also Energy, is the result of a $1.22 million PUC grant, with the remaining $1.4 million in total project costs being covered through a long-term power-purchase agreement (PPA) with the town. Not to mention the four long years of hard work and dedication by the energy champions in the small town, including Joe Byk and Rodney Bartlett, who work for the town, and Chris Anderson, resident of Peterborough and senior vice president of Borrego Solar. The array is expected to save the town more than $250,000 over the next 20 years.

The project was built on land that was essentially unusable — former lagoons at the wastewater treatment facility. Anderson explained that when they first started working at the site they discovered that there was seven times more sludge than they had anticipated. Another grant from the USDA Rural Business Development fund covered the cost of filling the lagoons.

New Hampshire Senator Jean Shaheen attended the ceremony and praised the town for becoming “The Greenest Town in New Hampshire.”  She and many of the others who spoke at the event emphasized the importance of lifting the 50-MW net-metering cap in New Hampshire as well as extending the federal production tax credit for solar, which will drop from 30 percent to 10 percent for commercial solar projects at the end of 2016.

Borrego’s Chris Anderson gave a heartfelt speech at the event, crediting his friendship with founders Oliver Strube and Jim Callihan for helping to inspire his interest in solar power, which ultimately led to him helping to found Borrego Solar and opening the office in New England. That office now employs 78 people directly and indirectly supports more than 500 jobs, according to Anderson.