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In the News

Revolution Energy at the 2011 N.H. Charitable Fund Annual Meeting

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Clay Mitchell explaining Revolutions Energy’s mission, successes, and goals for future.
http://www.youtube.com/user/NHCFoundation?feature=mhee#p/u/4/MQbUvFn07_U

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Revolution Energy and Exeter Project featured on WMUR

Monday, December 13th, 2010


Mike and Clay giving and an interview to WMUR  (Fall 2010)

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Solar Power: Affordable Alternative Energy (Foster’s)

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Sunday November 7, 2010

Foster”s Daily Democrat

By JASON CLAFFEY and JENNIFER KEEFE

For the average person, most forms of alternative energy are out of reach.

Erecting a wind turbine is expensive and may not be worth it if there isn”t enough wind — something the town of Kittery, Maine, found out when it pulled the plug on a $200,000 turbine at the transfer station because it didn”t produce enough energy.

A geothermal system that extracts hot water from hundreds of feet below the surface is expensive, too — costing up to $40,000.

And underwater tidal turbine technology is generally too new for residential use and requires living near water.

Solar technology, however, is cheap, accessible, and reliable.

Just ask Peter Ejarque. He built a solar water heater out of a discarded refrigerator, heater tank, and glass door he found at the dump. He installed water lines and sealed the unit with materials he bought at the hardware store. The whole thing cost him $30. He said it saves him 80 percent in energy costs at his Durham home.

“It might look strange, but it gets the job done,” said Ejarque, a former aerospace engineer who taught himself how to build the contraption.

It works like this: the unit is tilted outside to the south, where the sun shines the strongest. A garden hose fills the tank with water, which is warmed by the sun. A second line shoots the water to an electric water heater in the basement. Because the incoming water is already warm, the electric heater rarely has to turn on before funneling it to taps throughout the house.

Officials generally don”t recommend people build their own solar heaters because of safety reasons, though Ejarque said he”s had no problems with his. But even a commercial solar water heater starts at under $1,000, making it relatively affordable and able to pay for itself in energy savings.

Such a heater is the most cost-effective form of residential solar technology, according to Laura Richardson, a program coordinator for the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning.

“There”s a fast payback,” Richardson said.

Solar hot air panels, which cost about the same as solar water heaters, are another option. The panels are mounted on a home and absorb the sun”s rays. A fan that blows the hot air inside.

“It”s free heat,” Richardson said. “It can make a significant difference.”

Solar technology got a huge boost under the stimulus program shepherded in by President Obama. The program set aside about $70 billion for renewable energy projects.

A solar array at Exeter High School received a tax credit through the program.

The system recently came online. It has 465 solar panels that can create about 100 kilowatts of electrical energy.

Nathan Lunney, chief financial officer for the Exeter Region Cooperative School District, said one of the benefits of the project is that it will eventually pay for itself. Through an agreement with the installer, Revolution Energy of Dover, the district will buy the electricity generated by the solar array over the course of 10 years at a price that”s less than what the district would pay without the equipment.

“After 10 years, we”ll own all of that equipment without having to pay for it directly,” Lunney said. “Our savings in the first year is estimated at $20,000, and over 10 years, with the cost of energy rising, we will make a payment to buy energy at about $150,000 each year, but the savings in not having to purchase it elsewhere will be about $20,000 more than that each year.”

And by also coupling the project with the installation of an energy-efficient heating system, Lunney said those savings also will be used to help pay off the solar panels.

The panels are on the ground at the school, a placement Lunney said was specific to make sure students and residents are made aware of the possibilities offered by alternative energy.

“There haven”t really been state incentives here” for these types of projects, he said. “Let”s put it out there where they can see it and let it be a reminder that it”s the right thing to do and it”s doable.”

For this project, Revolution Energy is taking advantage of an incentive built into the stimulus package. The company was able to get a 30 percent tax credit for the materials through the U.S. Department of Energy, and they are able to deduct for the depreciation of that equipment on an accelerated time table.

“The way incentives are right now, there are tax-based incentives we”re able to acquire being a for-profit company that a nonprofit such as a school or municipal entity wouldn”t be able to acquire,” said Mike Behrman, co-founder and principal at Revolution Energy.

“There”s a big need for it,” Behrman said of alternative energy. “We”ve made that shift as a society that we need alternative energy and don”t want to be beholden to other countries that have a lot of volatility. And there are significant economic and environmental benefits.”

Solar panels are made of silicone, and when they absorb radiation, they release electrons that give off electricity. Their output is measured in kilowatts — Behrman said while Exeter”s 465 panels produce 100 kilowatts of electricity, a home typically would have a system that produced 8 to 10 kilowatts.

But Exeter”s system, he added, is only a fraction of what is produced elsewhere in the country, as there are megawatt-scale systems that produce 100 times the output of the school”s array.

Behrman said the Northeast is a “hotbed” for alternative energy, from homes to big corporations, and the benefit for solar power installations is that “the model doesn”t change.”

“The beauty of this is that it (the solar array) just sits there,” he said. “Wind, which is a great resource, can sometimes be a challenge because there are mechanical parts that need to be replaced and can be affected by turbulence. These just sit here. The most you have to do is go out and clean the surface. If it has snow on it, what typically happens is if they”re at an angle, any corner that”s exposed becomes hot and the rest of the panel heats up and the snow slides off. They”re not intensive from a maintenance standpoint. Solar power is almost as simple as you can get as far as alternative energy goes.”

For buyers who are interested in having solar panels installed at a home or business, but are concerned about damage, insurance is available, and there are flexible, durable, silicon-encased panels that are resistant to damage from wind or falling objects.

Also, Behrman said a common misconception is that solar panels won”t be as effective in a cold climate such as in New England, when in fact they are more efficient.

Behrman compared the panels to a computer or other electronic device that become hot when in use but contains a fan to cool it down so electricity can pass more easily through components.

“If the panels are hot, it”s more difficult to send electricity to the electrical panel in the wall to feed electronic devices in the facility, so the actual generating capacity of the panels goes down,” he said. “Because the Southwest has more (sun) exposure, it does receive more solar radiation in an average day than New Hampshire, but when you factor in the decrease in efficiency and the lower electricity rate, it”s more efficient to have a solar panel in New Hampshire than in Arizona.”

One of the largest solar markets in the world is in Ontario, Canada, he said.

“That”s the beauty of solar,” he said. “You get sunshine virtually everywhere.”

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Exeter High School solar array unveiled (Seacoast Online)

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Alexis Macarchuk

newsletter@seacoastonline.com

EXETER — The sun was reflecting off the 465 solar panels located at the entrance to Exeter High School as officials explained the ground-breaking energy project to a crowd gathered for its unveiling on Tuesday.

“Today would be a great day to check the output, I”m sure it”s huge,” said Clay Mitchell of Revolution Energy, who stood in front of a row of the panels as he discussed the science behind the project his company designed and implemented.

The solar array — which generates 100 kilowatt hours of energy and offsets about 5 percent of Exeter High School”s energy needs — has been producing energy since September.

In addition to the array, the district also installed a microturbine at the Seacoast School of Technology and replaced the building”s old oil boilers with high efficiency natural gas boilers.

“What you see is the solar array, which is only one of three parts,” Mitchell said, explaining that the energy initiatives combined will eventually save the district more than $200,000 per year.

The project was a partnership between the school district, Revolution Energy, the Department of Energy, Unitil and the Green Launching Pad — an alternative energy technology commercialization initiative started by Governor John Lynch and the University of New Hampshire last year.

“I think this is the perfect model,” said Ross Gittell of the Green Launching Pad. “It creates jobs, savings for the school district, protects the environment and is educating the next generation of alternative energy experts. We should all be very proud.”

In addition to financial support from the Green Launching Pad, Revolution Energy funded the project — with the help of Provident Bank — with a combination of traditional bank loans and tax incentives. The company will pay back loans with the money SAU 16 pays for electricity produced by the district”s new energy saving measures.

SAU 16 Chief Financial Officer Nathan Lunney said all the projects combined would have cost the district close to $1.5 million up front. He estimates the projects will produce energy savings of $20,000 the first year, with increased savings in the future.

Last winter, SST students began mounting panels on the school”s roof. Installation was halted when officials realized a ground mount would be more efficient and cut down on liabilities.

While the move delayed the project, Lunney said he is pleased with the decision because panels are more visible at the entrance to the school”s Blue Hawk Drive campus.

“Some 1,700 students and 500 staff members will come in every day — I can”t count the number of parents and grandparents that will come here, and every one of them will see one of the largest solar projects in the state,” he said.

Officials noted the solar array — which until earlier this summer was the largest in the state — puts both Revolution Energy and Exeter at the forefront of alternative energy projects happening around the state.

“We”re interested in setting an example of what can be aspired to in the future,” Lunney said.

Now that installation is complete, Mitchell said he will focus on a 10-year education component his company committed to at the start of the project. Revolution Energy employees will link up with teachers to help create lesson plans and show students the importance of the technology behind alternative energy sources.

See photos here:

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Exeter High Completes Green Project (NHPR)

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

By  (NHPR)

Exeter High School has put the finishing touches on one of the largest solar panel projects in the state.

Working with Dover-based Revolution Energy, the school has installed 100 kilowatts worth of panels to help control energy costs. Company co-owner Michael Berhmann estimates the panels coupled with other equipment upgrades represent five to seven percent of the campus’ energy usage. Berhmann says these improvements should save Exeter High about $20 thousand dollars a year. “That $20 thousand dollars that would have gone towards energy now can be placed to a more important position such as education or keeping on a staff member.”

Berhmann says the school can realize savings thanks to both federal incentives and the efficiency of renewable energy. He says about a dozen schools around New England have expressed interest in similar projects.

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Exeter High School Tests Solar Panels (WMUR)

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

WMUR:

Exeter, N.H. — Solar energy is becoming a bright reality at Exeter High School.

Michael Behrmann and Clay Mitchell, of Revolution Energy, helped put up 369 solar panels outside the school yard to generate energy.

“The beauty of the solar energy is it just sits here and generates energy,” Behrmann said. “Despite it being cloudy today it”s actually generating energy.”

And that”s good news for the school.

The men said the school did not have to pay for the project”s start-up costs. Instead, they signed up for a 10-year contract, and agreed to buy the energy it produces.

By going green, Revolution Energy said the school is saving green. And they even pump energy in the dead of winter.

“One of the really big myths about solar energy in New Hampshire is, “Oh, there”s not enough sun,”” Mitchell said. “Well when you get to winter, when things are cold, these panels actually produce more electricity because they operate more efficiently in the lower temperatures. So in a bright winter day, this array will be putting out its maximum output.”

It”s all part of a bigger project in town.

Revolution Energy is not only trying to cut down on energy costs, but also help teach kids in Exeter about solar technology.

“Because we”re going to be here for 10 years we”re going be involved in educating the students coming up through the system about what alternative energy is, about solar power about the other forms of energy,” Behrmann said.

As for how much money the school will save, Revolution Energy said it may be too early to tell. However, they said it could be right around $20,000 a year. That may be just as bright as the sun powering these panels.

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Getting the green to go ‘green’ (Seacoast Online)

Monday, October 11th, 2010

By Jim Cavan

business@seacoastonline.com
October 11, 2010 2:00 AM
From a distance, it must have been a sight to behold: two youngish, professional men, one clad in a black three-piece suit, heaving wood pallets and other refuse into a Dumpster outside a high school.

Strangely enough, it was probably the second time that day the two had sweated through their suits.

Earlier that day, Mike Behrmann and Clay Mitchell met with Gov. John Lynch at the University of New Hampshire during an event touting its Green Launching Pad, a grant program to help aid entrepreneurs in the green energy and products sector. Mitchell and Behrmann’s Revolution Energy was one of five startups in May to receive a GLP grant, designed to help each business take the “next step” forward in developing, producing, distributing or marketing their respective green products or services.

After meeting with the governor, Behrmann and Mitchell were off to meet fellow green entrepreneur Andrew Kellar, owner of Simply Green Biofuels. The three discussed their two companies’ partnership with Regeneration Park, a sort of green business incubator at a former car dealership on Route 1, which is slated to be up and running by year’s end. The building is set to include a solar array, which will be one of the largest in the state.

Not long after that meeting, the pair was off to Exeter High School, where the Revolution team put online a full solar energy system they’d helped construct last November. Tied for the second largest array in the state, and the largest for a school building, the system had been ready to launch for months, but needed a few last-minute approvals before the switch could be officially thrown.

A few minutes after the near 100-kilowatt array was turned on, Behrmann and Mitchell helped toss leftover waste and shipping materials into a Dumpster near the array. After helping Exeter High School launch One of the most common system expected to save the school district an estimated $20,000 a year, Behrmann and Mitchell were still willing to get their hands dirty.

“That’s pretty much a typical day,” Behrmann said. “And by that I mean there is no typical day for Revolution.”

Revolution was launched in 2008 as a spinoff from Mitchell and Behrmann’s sister company, Sustainable Development and Energy Systems Group. Founded a year earlier by Mitchell, Behrmann, Tobias Marquette and Chris Dundorf, SDES provides solutions for clients interested in saving energy, reducing energy costs and helping foster a greener environment. SDES assists with everything from conducting energy audits to energy planning, alternative energy system installation to general contracting and low energy residential design.

Revolution, meanwhile, deals with the hardware and machinery of the system itself. But Revolution neither manufactures nor installs the systems. Instead, because investing in alternative energy systems can be prohibitively expensive, Revolution secures actual financing, contracts the system’s construction and then charges the client the equivalent of a monthly electric bill to satisfy financing obligations.

The model, at least on its face, was as obvious as it was ingenious. In fact, Mitchell was shocked no one was really doing it around these parts. “It’s funny,” he said. “We get this question all the time when we talk to people about what we do. They say, ‘Why isn’t everyone doing this?’ And our only real answer is, ‘We don’t know!’ It’s truly baffling.”

Instead of being burdened with shelling out 100 percent of the cost of a solar array up front, businesses and other entities can achieve their dreams of going green and only have to worry about paying a monthly bill. The whole arrangement makes what was once a luxury for only the most fiscally unchained clients accessible to just about anyone.

But even coming up with Revolution’s unique financing model wasn’t so much planned as thrust upon them. Mitchell’s wife, Sarah Cook, has for years been a seventh-grade teacher in Exeter, and in that time had become friends with the school district’s Chief Financial Officer Nathan Lunney. Lunney had been interested in the prospects of incorporating clean energy into Exeter’s overall portfolio, and he became further intrigued when he discovered Revolution could potentially provide financial flexibility needed for the school district.

There was only one stipulation: Exeter didn’t want to pay for any of it up front.

“Needless to say, that was a challenge,” Behrmann said.

At this point, Revolution started exploring financing options. They called dozens of banks and spoke with countless financial gurus, seeking a partnership that would provide the necessary incentive for Exeter without driving Revolution itself into fiscal difficulty.

Eventually, Revolution landed The Provident Bank, which was enthusiastic about the model and what it could mean for local commerce. The terms were simple: Exeter schools would pay $150,000 a year to Revolution for the system, while Exeter would save roughly $170,000 a year compared to current energy cost, gaining $20,000 in savings.

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Study shows green jobs could potentially stimulate N.H. economy (TNH)

Friday, September 24th, 2010

By

September 14, 2010

The Green Launching Pad is a partnership between UNH and the state of New Hampshire dedicated to helping business entrepreneurs thrive in New Hampshire”s developing green economy.

The partnership, now in its second year, connects UNH faculty, staff and students with private business owners interested in starting economically friendly products and services.

Three UNH faculty members were involved with the creation of the Green Launching Pad: Ross Gittell, professor of management, A.R Venkatachalam, director of the Enterprise Integration Research Center, and Kevin Gardner, director of Environmental Research Group.

“It”s a win-win situation,” Gittell said. “The Green Launching Pad can help both the environment and the economy.”

Revolution Energy was one of the five businesses chosen for the Green Launching Pad. “Professor Gittell and [other] UNH professors are providing lots of expertise in business management, marketing, business plans, venture capital, and focusing on how to grow as a company,” Michael Behrmann, UNH alumnus and co-founder of Revolution Energy, said.

Founded in 2006, Berhmann”s business provides alternative renewable energy services for both the public and private sector.

A recent 2009 report titled New Hampshire”s Green Economy and Industries: Current Employment and Future Opportunities, by Professor Gittell and other colleagues, highlights future job opportunities for the state of New Hampshire. According to the report, from 2001 to 2007, employment in green jobs in New Hampshire increased by two percent.

This means New Hampshire could expect 16,000 jobs in the near term and 25,000 jobs over 10 years on top of the current green job base. According to Gittell, there could be a total of over 40,000 green jobs in New Hampshire by 2018.

For Professor Venkatachalam, interest in the Green Launching Pad came from his belief in the “three E challenges:” Economics, Energy and the Environment.

“The future is the three E”s,” Venkatachalam said. “Any business venture that follows the three E”s is going to be the future.”

Projects like the Green Launching Pad will continue to expand the green economy both locally and nationally, opening future opportunities for college students.

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Green Launching Pad having an impact (Seacoast Online)

Monday, September 13th, 2010
By Michael McCord
business@seacoastonline.com
August 30, 2010 2:00 AM

DURHAM — For entrepreneur Mike Behrmann of Revolution Energy in Dover, the potential of a new program designed to help small alternative energy companies make it in the marketplace is bearing fruit.

“Things are going great,” said Behrmann about the crash course his young business has taken since it was chosen in May as one of the five original companies taking part in the University of New Hampshire-based Green Launching Pad. “We have received a number of different resources from the GLP, and the mentoring has played a big role in helping us develop.”

The Green Launching Pad, a partnership between the state of New Hampshire and the University of New Hampshire, was unveiled earlier this year with much fanfare and bolstered by $750,000 in federal stimulus funding.

The goal of the initiative was to help innovative clean energy companies succeed in the marketplace and jump start the creation of green economy jobs while lessening the economic dependence and environmental harm of fossil fuels. The template was to give established and start-up companies extensive financial, operational, technical, and managerial support to launch and commercialize green energy products and services to enhance energy efficiency and renewable energy.

“The ideas and the products that will be nurtured by the Green Launching Pad will help create good jobs, strengthen New Hampshire’s economy for the future, and reduce harmful pollution,” said Gov. John Lynch in May during the announcement of the first five companies to receive GLP grant funding and support.

The depth and breadth of mentoring support that companies such as Revolution Energy has received over the summer has been one of the emerging stories of the GLP, said one of the program’s co-principals, A.R. “Venky” Venkatachalam, chair of the Department of Decision Sciences and professor of information systems.

“There are well-established findings that early-stage financing for businesses like these,” Venkatachalam said. “But there is also a critical need for early-stage mentoring in business planning and development, market research and branding and getting the word out.”

Revolution Energy, which began in idea form about three years ago, was awarded $60,000 for staff salary and professional services, and Behrmann said the company has used GLP support to fine tune their model of developing alternative energy projects in New Hampshire using third-party financing and creative incentive leveraging. The company is seeking to advance their successful pilot project — one of the state’s largest solar arrays at Exeter High School — into a larger, sustainable business model.

“We are asked ‘who are you?’ and ‘how long have you been around?’ and we haven’t really dealt with many angel investors or venture capitalists,” Behrmann said. “The mentoring provides us a great deal of insight, and it would be hard to navigate without this support.” He believes that Revolution Energy is far better equipped to take the company to its next level than it has ever been.

The other original companies chosen for GLP funding and support — out of 71 who submitted proposals — are Green Clean Heat LLC of Newton Junction, EnerTrac, Inc. of Hudson, Compressor Energy Solution, Inc.and Innovacene of Durham. The companies have received funding, academic support and student intern assistance, mentoring from industry experts along with taking part in intensive business development seminars at UNH during the summer that covered all aspects of taking a business to the next level.

Lynch was scheduled to take part in a roundtable meeting with GLP partners and stakeholders on Aug. 26. “We know the ideas are out there to leverage the emerging green economy to New Hampshire advantage,” said UNH President Mark W. Huddleston. “This program will help find and fund those ideas, creating opportunities for new jobs and economic growth.”

The Green Launching Pad came from the combined academic and private sector collaboration that included UNH professor Ross Gittell, the James R. Carter Professor and professor of management; Jesse Devitte, the founder and CEO of Portsmouth-based Borealis Ventures; and Richard Ober of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. Venkatachalam, who was also one of the original founders, said that a venture summit later this fall will be the culmination of the GLP’s first year and that the next batch of GLP businesses will be named early next year.

What is fast developing through the GLP, he said, is a release of entrepreneurial talent, an academic focus renewal and the development of a community. He said the business development seminar series has drawn large numbers — not only from the GLP five but from among the 71 companies that weren’t chosen.

“You read about this when you have academia and industry working well together. This has been a huge positive experience that could be a powerful force for economic development in the state,” he said.

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Governors, hurricanes and dumpsters: Just another day at the "office" for Revolution Energy (The Green Alliance)

Monday, September 13th, 2010

By Jim Cavan (The Green Alliance):

From a distance, it must have been a sight to behold: two youngish, professional men, one clad in a black three-piece suit complete with tie, heaving wood pallets and other refuse into an enormous dumpster outside a high school.

Strangely enough, it’s more than likely the second time that day the two had sweated clean through their suits.

That morning, Mike Behrmann and Clay Mitchell had been meeting face-to-face with Governor Lynch at a UNH event touting the school’s Green Launching Pad (GLP), a grant program to help aid entrepreneurs in the green energy and products sector. Back in May Mitchell and Behrmann’s Revolution Energy was one of five startups to receive a GLP grant, designed to help each business take the “next step” forward in developing, producing, distributing or marketing their respective green products or services.

After a brief but constructive private meeting with the Governor, Behrmann and Mitchell were off to meet with fellow green entrepreneur Andrew Kellar, owner of Simply Green Biofuels. The three discussed their two companies’ partnership with Regeneration Park, a sort of green business incubator housed in the old Toyota dealership along Route 1 which is slated to be up and running by the end of the year.

By 3pm the two were on the road again. This time the destination was Exeter High School, where the Revolution team put online a full solar energy system they’d helped construct last November. Tied for the second largest array in the state – and the largest for a school building – the system had been “ready to launch” for months, but needed to get a few last minute go-aheads before the switch could be officially thrown.

A few minutes after the near 100 kilowatt array was turned on, the two could be found tossing leftover waste and shipping materials into the orange 8-yard dumpster near the grounded array. After helping the Exeter School District launch a system expected to save the school district an estimated $20,000 a year, Behrmann and Mitchell were still willing to get their hands dirty.

“That’s pretty much a typical day,” says Behrmann. “And by that I mean there is no typical day for Revolution.”

*              *              *              *              *              *              *              *

Revolution was launched in 2008 as a spinoff from Mitchell and Behrmann’s sister company, Sustainable Development and Energy Systems Group (SDES).  Founded a year earlier by Mitchell, Behrmann, Tobias Marquette and Chris Dundorf, SDES provides solutions for clients interested in saving energy, reducing energy costs, and helping foster a cleaner, greener environment –  everything from conducting energy audits to energy planning, alternative energy system installation to general contracting and low energy residential design.

Revolution, meanwhile, deals with the real thing: the hardware and machinery of the system itself… along with the occasional cardboard box and pallet. But Revolution neither manufactures nor installs the systems themselves. Instead, because investing in alternative energy systems can be prohibitively expensive – particularly for cash-strapped cities in a stagnant economy – Revolution secures the actual financing, contracts the system’s construction, and then charges the client the equivalent of a monthly electric bill to satisfy financing obligations.

The model, at least on its face, was as obvious as it was ingenious. In fact, founder Clay Mitchell was shocked that no one was really doing it around these parts.

“It”s funny. We get this question all the time when we talk to people about what we do,” Mitchell exclaims. “They say, “Why isn”t everyone doing this?” And out only real answer is, ‘we don”t know!” It’s truly baffling.”

Instead of being burdened with having to shell out 100% of the cost of a state-of-the-art solar array up front, now businesses and other entities could achieve their dreams of “going green” and only have to worry about paying the monthly bill. The whole arrangement makes what was once a pie-in-the-sky luxury for only the most fiscally unchained clients accessible to just about anyone.

But even coming up with Revolution’s unique financing model wasn’t so much planned or thought out as it was thrust upon them. Mitchell’s wife, Sarah Cook, has for years been a 7th grade teacher at Exeter, and in that time had become friends with the district’s Chief Financial Officer, Nathan Lunney. For his part, Lunney had always been interested in the prospects of incorporating clean energy into Exeter’s overall portfolio, and became doubly intrigued when he discovered that Mitchell’s Revolution could potentially provide the kind of financial flexibility that would be all but necessary for the school district.

There was only one stipulation: Exeter didn’t want to pay for any of it up front.

“Needless to say, that was a challenge,” recalls Behrmann.

It was at this point that the Revolution team started exploring the financing route. They called dozens of banks and spoke with countless financial gurus, seeking a partnership that would both provide the necessary incentive for Exeter, without driving Revolution itself into a fiscal hamstringing.

Eventually Revolution landed Provident Bank, who was equally enthusiastic about the model and what it could mean for local commerce. The terms were simple: Exeter would pay $150,000 a year to Revolution for the system, while Exeter would save roughly $170,000 a year compared to current energy cost – witnessing a true $20,000 in energy savings.

While the process took well over a year – local and state laws, ordinances, and energy policy aren’t the easiest things to navigate – by December 2009 the equipment had been put into place. Although, truth be told, even the build day itself became a totem to the unpredictable nature of the beast: just days before, Behrmann and a friend had flown to Albuquerque, New Mexico to drive a Penske truck full of specialized mounting racks in a 48-hour sprint across the country in order to make it in time for the ground-breaking.

They made it – barely. “That was a rough trip, but a fun one,” recalls Behrmann. “There’s nothing quite like driving an enormous truck with equipment worth probably more than your life through a three day rain storm on no sleep and terrible food. But we made it.”

*              *              *              *              *

A few days after dumpster stomping, Mitchell and Behrmann are back at their office – a rare and welcome blip in an otherwise jumbled radar screen of meetings, designing the next projects, conferences, and hobnobbing. The down time is as rare as it is necessary: between mounting press for the Exeter project, creating a district-wide curriculum to teach Exeter students about the science behind their new system, and working on future projects – the solar array atop Regeneration Park is slated to be one of the largest in the state – there’s no shortage of forms to fill out and file away, calls to take, or deals to make.

Oh, and Hurricane Earl is headed up the Atlantic towards Northern New England. While not the best news for an untested and unproven solar array, the system is designed to resist winds of up to 100mph. Still, the irony doesn’t escape Mike Behrmann.

“Of course there’s a hurricane coming,” says Behrmann, with not a little trepidation. “At this point, after all the work and effort of getting this project off the ground, we would have been shocked if we’d put this thing up and there wasn’t a hurricane coming.”

“Just chalk this up to another day in the life of Revolution Energy.”

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