Governor flips switch on largest school solar energy system

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Governor flips switch on largest school solar energy system

Sat, 12/14/2013 - 12:39am -- tim

Solar developers, state and local officials, and 260 middle schoolers gathered Thursday to flip the switch and energize the largest school solar system in Vermont. Crossett Brook Middle School in Duxbury is now the home of two solar arrays, replacing over one-third of the school’s total electricity demand with solar power.
‘This is one more example of Vermont’s leadership in developing our renewable energy resources and in driving math and science education in our schools,’ said Governor Shumlin. ‘Moving forward, we’ll be working to strengthen Vermont’s solar programs so that every Vermont school can follow Crossett Brook’s lead.’
Last year, at the town energy committee’s urging, the Waterbury-Duxbury School Board began a conversation about building a solar array large enough to provide a significant portion of the school’s electricity needs. ‘We knew the school was committed to sustainability, but would need to build the project within their current budget,’ said Luke Shullenberger of Green Lantern Capital. ‘So, we provided financing that required no upfront cost and a monthly payment that will save the school 10% each month compared to utility rates.’
‘This was a win-win for us,’ said Tom Drake, Crossett Brook’s principal. ‘The financing option made it an easy budget decision and we’re already incorporating the project into our curriculum. Our goal is for Crossett Brook to be a leader when it comes to sustainability science education.’ This last fall, Crossett Brook launched the state’s first middle school Sustainability Program, including a significant curriculum on renewable energy.
Construction of the 480-panel array began late this fall. SunCommon, a Waterbury-based solar company, designed and installed the project. ‘To build the clean energy future we all want for our state, we’re going to need to repower one home, one business, one school at a time,’ said James Moore, co-president of SunCommon. ‘We’re thrilled to be part of adding our local middle school to the growing solar community in Vermont.’
Today’s event was held in the midst of a statewide debate as to the future of Vermont’s net-metering program. Current state policy requires Vermont’s utilities to pay a premium for solar power produced by installations such as the one commissioned today at Crossett Brook and connected to the local utility, Green Mountain Power. ‘At GMP, we see solar as an opportunity to fulfill our customers’ wants and needs,’ said CEO Mary Powell. ‘We recognize the incredible value of solar power to our communities, to our environment, and to our company and are excited to see this new solar installation spring up within our utility.’
Waterbury LEAP, the local energy team, has set the goal of being the greenest community in the state by 2020. ‘This school solar project, combined with upcoming town projects, will likely propel Waterbury and Duxbury to numbers one and two in the state in installed community solar.’