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Exeter High School Due To Have The Largest Solar Array In NH! (NHPR)

Featured by NHPR By Amy Quinton
Friday, June 25, 2010

Next month, Exeter High School will sport the state’s largest solar photovoltaic array.

The 100 kilowatt system is just part of a comprehensive energy project designed for the Exeter Region Cooperative District.

As New Hampshire Public Radio’s Amy Quinton reports, a unique partnership allowed the district to do the project with no upfront capital costs.

731 :04 (this is it, this is the field that’s going to house the solar array)

Mike Behrman with Revolution Energy stands in front of an open field at the entrance to Exeter High School.

He says by next month 500 solar panels will be up and operating here…and it will be the first thing people see when driving by the school.

733 :35 it’s going to go about 190 feet total for the first row, the next row about 150 feet, then the two rows behind that will be roughly 70 feet.

It’s a massive project in size.

100 kilowatts is the largest in the state.

But, Nathan Lunney, the Chief Financial Officer for SAU 16, says it will offset only five to seven percent of the high school’s energy consumption.

“it’s not an enormous part of the consumption of electricity that we have at the new Exeter High School, but its five to seven percent that we will generate at no cost really for years, decades even into the future.”

But that’s not the only energy project the SAU is undertaking.

(nat sound)

Inside the boiler room of the Seacoast School of Technology in Exeter, a large grey box about nine feet tall in the shape of a file cabinet sits next to the boilers.

It’s a microturbine, which is a type of combined heat and power system.

Mike Behrman says it’s the first one of its kind installed in the state.

728 1:20 “what this will end up doing is working with the boilers in the background here, during the heating season, and simply feed into this greater system and help offset some of the heating demands”

Nathan Lunney says while the 65 kilowatt system operates, the excess heat is harnessed to help offset some of the electric demand in the building.

719 :20 “we will not completely take ourselves off the grid at night, but close, and during the day, our consumption runs upwards 125, 130 kilowatts so we will essentially halve our daily consumption.”

The SAU also replaced its old oil boilers with two new high efficiency natural gas boilers.

Lunney says all the projects combined would have cost the school district a million and a half dollars upfront.

But Revolution Energy managed to come up with a way to provide the projects for no upfront costs.

A school district cannot take advantage of federal or state tax incentives for renewable or energy efficient projects.

But Revolution Energy can.

So Behrman says they bought the equipment with the help of Provident Bank, and signed a ten year contract with the SAU.

720 1:46 “for those ten years, it is actually our equipment, we own and maintain it, we operate it and make sure everything is running smoothly, after the end of that ten years this school district has the opportunity to purchase that equipment at fair market value.”

By that time, the equipment will be very affordable.

And those tax savings Revolution Energy took advantage of will be passed down to the school.

Lunney says the way this system is set up now they’re actually going to see a savings in the first year.

718 5:07” our outlays for the energy that will be generated by the system are roughly 150-thousand dollars a year, our savings generated in the first year is calculated closer to 170-thousand.”

And at the end of those ten years, the SAU will begin saving hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in energy costs.

Students will also benefit, by learning about the technologies as part of their curriculum.

As a result of this pilot project, Revolution Energy was recently awarded 60-thousand dollars through the Green Launching Pad.

That effort is designed to bring clean energy projects and green jobs to the state.

Revolution Energy will use the money to expand projects like this throughout the state.

For NHPR news, I’m Amy Quinton.

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