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|NHEC Breaks Ground on State’s Largest Solar Array|
|Published Friday, June 9, 2017|
Site work is underway in Moultonborough at the future location of New Hampshire Electric Co-op’s 2 MW solar PV system. Photo: NHEC
New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC) in Plymouth, a member-owned electric distribution cooperative serving 84,000 homes and businesses in 115 NH communities, has begun construction of what will be the largest solar electric array in the state. The array is a two megawatt (MW) system that will provide its members electricity located on NHEC’s own distribution system.
The ground-mounted solar photovoltaic (PV) system, comprised of approximately 8,000 panels, will take shape over the next several months on land owned by NHEC adjacent to its substation on Moultonborough Neck Road in Moultonborough. It is expected to be online by the end of 2017 and producing approximately 3.5 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year for the next 25 years or more, enough power for approximately 600 homes.
The Moultonborough solar array will displace electricity NHEC would otherwise have to purchase and pay to have imported from outside its system, and will generate Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) that NHEC can either use to meet its requirements under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard or can sell to other electricity providers. The project will also support NHEC’s efforts to explore new initiatives that can benefit members, including utility-scale power storage that can help further reduce the financial impact of periods of peak demand when power prices spike.
At current costs, the Moultonborough project’s output is expected to save NHEC more than $280,000 per year in costs it would otherwise incur for purchase and delivery of the same products at wholesale from sources outside its system. After factoring in the cost of construction and the expected savings, the power from the project is expected to immediately have a net cost on par with conventionally produced power imported by NHEC from the regional market.
"Wholesale power prices can vary widely, but this project will provide NHEC’s members a reliable source of renewable energy at a fixed cost for at least the next 25 years," says Steve Camerino, president and CEO of NHEC. "The Moultonborough solar project will allow NHEC to build on its experience operating two smaller solar PV systems that currently power our district offices in Raymond and Sunapee by exploring how a larger system will work in conjunction with our facilities and whether such installations elsewhere on our system might make sense.”
The total cost of the Moultonborough solar array is approximately $5 million, which is being financed by low interest New Clean Energy Renewable Bonds (NCREBs) made available by the U.S. Treasury Department for public sector renewable energy projects. Ameresco in Framingham, Mass. will build the 2 MW array. Site work on the 65 acre-parcel off Moultonborough Neck Road is being performed by Jeremy Hiltz Excavating in Ashland. Engineering services are being provided by McCourt Engineering in Henniker.
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