Peterborough Solar Array to be Completed Next Month
PETERBOROUGH — Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H., took a tour of what is soon to be the largest solar array in the state at the Peterborough waste water treatment plant Wednesday morning.
The work has spawned four other potential projects that would duplicate what Peterborough is doing — building a large solar array by taking advantage of current state and federal incentives.
The nearly one megawatt solar array should be completed and operational by the end of May, said Chris Anderson, chief technology officer of Borrego Solar Systems.
Borrego Solar Systems is a designer, developer, installer and financier of solar photovoltaic systems.
The California-based company is building the $2.6 million solar array for the town with a $1.2 million grant from the NH Public Utilities Commission, federal tax credits and additional funding from Borrego.
The solar company has applied for state grants to fund duplicate projects in Jaffrey, Nashua, Bristol and a second solar array in Peterborough that would capture solar energy for five or six area towns.
Peterborough expects to save $250,000 in energy costs over the next 10 years because of the solar array.
These large solar projects give energy consumers the biggest bang for their buck, said Andrew Reed, Borrego Solar Systems vice president of project development.
“Several kilowatts or more really drive down the costs,” Reed said.
A fairly new state law allows the town to receive credit for the excess electricity created by the solar array, Reed said.
The planned 947 kilowatt solar array would be close to double the 500 kilowatt capacity of the state’s current largest solar array at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.
Town officials expect the solar array to meet most of the town’s electricity needs at a lower cost than it is paying now.
However, Reed said the federal and state incentives that made the Peterborough solar array possible are in danger of going away.
The state grant money was debated in Concord Wednesday, Reed said.
If those state funds dry up, Borrego would redirect their regional efforts to projects in Massachusetts, he said.
The federal tax credit is also set to end in 2016.
Kuster said she supports extending the federal tax credit for solar projects.
“I came of age in the energy crisis of the early 70s with the gas lines,” Kuster said, adding she wants to do anything she can to help municipalities and residents reduce their energy consumption.
The problem is many people have little control over the matter, she said.
“I think part of the problem around the issue of energy generally is that it just arrives in our houses. So most people don’t think they can have much impact. But I believe that we can,” Kuster said. “I think New Hampshire can be a leader in clean energy instead of a follower.”
In July, Peterborough residents overwhelmingly voiced support for the project through a unanimous special town meeting vote to authorize the select board to negotiate the conditions and terms for a 20-year lease for the construction and operation of the 947 kilowatt solar array on nearly five acres of former wastewater lagoons on the site of the town’s wastewater treatment plant.