by Steve Snyder
Green Energy Times
January 30, 2021
A first-of-its-kind community solar-electric project located in Charlestown, NH was completed in December 2020. This project allows member-owners to receive on-bill credits for their ownership share of the solar array’s net-metered electric output each month. The Charlestown Community Solar project is 100kW AC. It is expected to generate approximately 184,000kWh annually along with a considerable reduction of their carbon footprint.
Lorraine Kelly, one of the members of the project, said, “Larry and I are delighted to know that Charlestown Community Solar is fully operational and that going forward, five-eighths of our anticipated energy needs will be generated by solar power. Since we are surrounded by lovely old oak trees, rooftop solar was not an option for our total-electric house and plug-in vehicle. Being part of a community-solar project will enable us to reduce our carbon footprint significantly. Many thanks to you and the team at Norwich Solar (NS) for the fine work that made this choice available to us.”
Group net metering has been available in New Hampshire for a few years, but only recently could participants receive credits on their electric bills directly. This new way for NH residents to benefit from solar stems from recent changes enacted by the state legislature. With this legislative change, NST was able to offer New Hampshire residents an easier way to participate and save by utilizing the on-bill credit method.
With the help of Sustainable Hanover’s 2020 Solarize Hanover campaign, NST was able to help nineteen Upper Valley residential customers go solar, when they could not do so on their own homes for a variety of reasons. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, only 22 to 27% of residential rooftops in the U.S. are able to host a solar PV system because of structural challenges, tree shading, or “ownership issues” – mainly households who rent and cannot install solar panels on roofs they don’t own. Community Solar is a way to overcome all of those challenges and grant solar access to a previously underserved population.
Each of the nineteen member-owners in the project owns a specified number of panels sized to match the owner’s electric consumption. By bringing the owners together as a part of a larger community project, the member-owners can benefit from the efficiencies of a larger array, achieve their desired result of going solar, and work around the challenges of having the panels mounted directly on their home.
The Charlestown Community Solar project is the first of many that NST plans to develop and construct in New Hampshire, in addition to the many ongoing community solar projects already in development in Vermont. Jim Merriam, CEO of NST said, “We are so excited how this new opportunity makes it easy for New Hampshire residents to benefit from solar. We think everyone has the right to choose how they get their power, and we hope this is just the beginning for New Hampshire residents.”