NEW HAVEN — An array of around 500 solar panels is slated to be erected in New Haven off Town Road this summer. It’s a project whose funding has an interesting twist.
The solar photovoltaic project, which recently received its Certificate of Public Good (CPG) from the Vermont Public Service Board, was facilitated by the Acorn Renewable Energy Co-op in collaboration with Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op, Misty Knoll Farm of New Haven, and Encore Redevelopment of Burlington.
“We are very pleased to have located a suitable site and brought the collaborating parties together for this exciting local solar project that will benefit everyone involved,” said Greg Pahl, board president of the Acorn Renewable Energy Co-op. “The CPG gives the project the green light to move forward.”
The three-way agreement calls for Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op (MNFC) to use the electricity generated by the 150 kW photovoltaic array that will be built on a site owned by Misty Knoll Farm not far from Route 7. The solar array was developed and will be constructed by Encore without cost to either Misty Knoll Farm or MNFC. Both MNFC and Misty Knoll Farm will receive an annual payment as compensation for their roles as “off-taker” and site provider.
The service term runs for an initial 20-years, beginning when the array starts to produce electricity, with a renewal option for an additional five years. Misty Knoll Farm and MNFC have the option to purchase the array at a depreciated fair market value after the seventh anniversary of when MNFC begins using electricity generated by the array.
“Our board was very positive about obtaining net metering credits from a local solar photovoltaic facility,” said Glenn Lower, general manager of MNFC. “As a co-op ourselves, we like the collaborative nature of this project with Misty Knoll Farm.”
Encore Redevelopment will be responsible for the construction of the 150-kilowatt project to be located to the north and slightly east of the Misty Knoll Farm facility near the junction of Route 7 and Town Hill Road in New Haven.
The solar farm will occupy slightly less than an acre. It will be roughly one-sixth of the size of the Ferrisburgh Solar Farm off Route 7 near Vergennes and 1/15 the size of the other solar farm in New Haven, the one west of Route 7 a few miles north of Route 17, according to Chad Farrell, principal at Encore Redevelopment.
Construction is expected to begin by the middle of this month.
“We are very pleased to see this land being put to productive use in a way that will benefit MNFC,” said Rob Litch, Misty Knoll’s general manager. “We also like the idea that we are generating more electricity right here in Addison County from local resources.”
Encore and its investor partners will insure, operate and maintain the solar array and also pay all state solar taxes and local personal property taxes assessed on the project over the term of the agreement.
“We appreciate all the work that the Acorn Energy Co-op board members have put into helping make this creative project become a reality,” Farrell said. Encore Redevelopment and Acorn Energy Co-op have had a joint development agreement for local solar projects for the past few years.
The ground mounted solar array is expected to generate 190,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each year — enough to provide electricity to 30 average homes, according to Farrell.