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Solar garden grows green in Brewster, MA

A verdant glowing green, according to the proprietors of the Brewster Community Solar Garden, constructed in 2012 off Freeman’s Way in Brewster.
The garden was conceived and built under the eye of MyGeneration Energy of Brewster. Shares (SunRights) were sold to investors in the cooperative for $5,000 with an expected return of $6,400 worth of electricity over five years.
The garden of 1440 Tennessee-built Sharp solar panels sits next to the water department adjacent to Route 6 and opposite the Captains Course driving range.
“It’s something of a source of pride for Brewster,” Hinkle declared. “In the summer wildflowers bloom and last year we put in bluebird houses.”
“You feel you’re part of something doing good; saving the planet,” co-op member Cal Mutti reflected. “I think it’s a signal of the future and I’m so proud of Brewster to be at the starting gate of a new way to generate electricity that’s not harming the environment. We live in the forest and there’s no way I could have panels at my house.”
The electricity produced by the panels, about 460 megawatts a year (above the original 410 megawatt target) is net-metered every month by utility Eversource and the voltage produced is credited back to the co-op and parceled out to the members. Each member has the equivalent of 28 panels of production.
“The co-op doesn’t own the facility; what you’ve got is a consumer cooperative,” Hinkle told the members. “You have purchased electricity in the form of net-metering credits at a discount. Your organization can go on forever.”
Last year (February to February) produced $69,411.05 worth of credits to the bills and 459,972 kilowatt-hours of power.
It’s tax-free because it’s not income. It only shows up on your electric bill as credits against your consumption. Excess credits are rolled over for future bills.

Read the article here.

Huge solar farm ribbon-cutting on April 8th + New projects to be built

Photo by Bob Fowler

Photo by Bob Fowler

In Oak Ridge, the second one-megawatt solar farm in East Tennessee has been dedicated in ceremonies Thursday morning.

The project is called Powerhouse Six, and it’s slightly more than five acres of former Department of Energy land next to the former K-25 site where uranium was enriched.

That property is now under the Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee, a nonprofit economic development group, and CROET will lease the land.

“We’re turning a brown field into a bright field,” said Gil Hough, renewable-energy manager for Restoration Services Inc. RSI is an employee-owned company involved in the cleanup of DOE sites and development of solar farms on former DOE lands.

Powerhouse Six is named after the nearby powerhouse that provided electricity to K-25. The solar array consists of 3,268 solar panels. It is located on property unsuitable for other uses because now-abandoned conduit pipes for power lines to K-25 are buried there.

It is expected to produce enough electricity to run 133 typical homes for a year. It will offset greenhouse has emitted by 203 vehicles annually. It will flow into TVA’s power grid, and TVA will reimburse the solar array’s owners for it. It will cost just under $2 million to build.

The firm also built a 200-kw solar farm dubbed Brightfield One just off Tennessee 58.

Similar sized projects to Powerhouse Six are being built at Eastbridge Business Park in Knox County and at the Plateau Partnership Park in Cumberland County. In June, construction will begin for both places. Negotiations are also underway for two other sites in Loudon County and the Cookeville area and will hopefully be under construction in the fall.

Read the entire article here.

Information also from “More solar farms to shine in ET” by Bob Fowler

Net Metering Impacts

The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce held it’s national convention in Salt Lake City this fall. It is the largest gathering of Hispanic business leaders in the country. It got them thinking about how to ensure that Hispanics remain an economic force in America. Hispanic owned businesses have nearly doubled to over 3 million in the last decade, growing at about 7 percent annually from 2007-2013, compared to the avg. of about 3 percent. Central to this continued growth is making sure Hispanics have access to reliable and affordable electricity power to homes and businesses.

While many in our community receive the benefit of reliable and affordable energy, even the installation and use of solar panels, Hispanics are being hit with high electricity bills because of a public policy called net metering. These policies need to be amended.

This policy called net metering lets household with rooftop solar panels offset their electricity bills by receiving credit for the energy that they produce. By rewarding solar customers too much, these consumers bypass paying for some of the costs of the grids.

Who is forced to pick up the slack? Everyone who does not have rooftop solar, and specifically the lower income and minority communities, including Hispanics. They are forced to essentially subsidize these rooftop solar systems because they can’t afford to own them themselves. In California, a report found that the typical rooftop solar customer made an average household income of $91,000, compared to the national median income for Hispanics which is $39,005. Net metering results in a faulty transaction at best. These people with fewer incomes and fewer resources should not fall prey to this cost shift.

Minority and lower-income communities can find common cause with an array of other Americans, facing obstacles on installation, in resisting the unfair cost shift that’s occurring because of net-metering policies.

Our communities economic growth and well-being can’t be held back because some of us are forced to finance other people’s rooftop solar usage.

Read the article here.

TREEDC to host solar workshop in Winfield Tennessee

Topics Discussed will be:
  • Solar Opportunities for cities, counties, and schools under the TVA’s new incentive program.
Date and Location:
  • April 7, 2015 : 11:30 AM Eastern Time
  • 24961 Scott Highway, Winfield, TN 37892
Event Schedule:
  1. Introduction of Warren Nevad, The University of Tennessee MTAS/TREEDC Director
  2. TVA Solar incentive program for local governments and schools: Greg Kelly, Hannah Solar.
  3. Financing Options for local governments and schools: Greg Kelly, Hannah Solar.
  4. Case Studies: Hawkins County Tennessee and Tybee Island, Georgia: Greg Kelly, Hannah Solar.
  5. Question and Answer session: TREEDC president James Talley

Visit TREEDC for more information.

UT Reaffirms Focus on Energy With Newest Car Charging Station

Solar-Array-300x181 Advances in solar technology may come as a result of a new electric vehicle charging station and solar panels at UT, created in partnership with the university’s West Tennessee Solar Farm.

They are being located atop the Eleventh Street Garage and are the reason for the recent construction and space closures.

Completion is due by the end of the month, the area will offer five sports devoted solely to electric vehicles with 7 total chargers available.

The station will be connected to the Power Electronics Laboratory in the Min H. Kao Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Building, part of the Center for Ultra-Wide-Area Resilient Electric Energy Transmission Networks, or CURENT.

“This is a great opportunity to help the environment while at the same time demonstrating some of the latest green technology,” said College of Engineering dean Wayne Davis.

The five-megawatt West Tennessee Solar Farm, on of southeast’s largest solar arrays, is located along interstate 40 about fifty miles northeast of Memphis.

Online since 2012, the farm is capable of producing enough energy to power 500 homes a year. It was created through the stimulus-funded Volunteer State Solar Initiative and is owned and operated by UT.

“The purpose of the West Tennessee Solar Farm is to generate power, demonstrate new technology, and educate the public about solar power. This project with the College of Engineering is a fulfillment of those goals by offering educational opportunities to students who may one day develop solar technology of the future,” said Stacey Patterson, UT System assistant vice president and director of research partnerships for UT, who coordinated efforts between the college and the solar farm.

Revenue generated by the solar farm is funding the garage project and connecting it to the Power Electronics Laboratory.

Find the article here.