The ribbon-cutting event on October 6, 2022 celebrates the completion of Norwich Solar’s 45th Community solar installation. The 500kW AC ground mount system will provide Kinney Drugs with solar net metering credits. The array is located in Green Mountain Power territory so it can serve the drugstore’s 22 Vermont store locations. The new solar array is tucked behind the Fairlee Drive-In Theater amid farm fields and is not visible from Route 5. The site was a marginal hay field that was difficult for farming equipment to access. Norwich Solar improved road access to construct the array and provided the land owner with ample acreage for haying.
Jim Merriam, CEO of Norwich Solar says, “This project adds locally produced renewable energy to Vermont, and is a positive investment in the community’s efforts to confront climate change.” He adds, “Installations such as these strengthen our local business, communities and land owners alike.”
Norwich Solar signed a 25-year lease agreement with property owners that were looking for a way to integrate renewable energy into their long-term land use plans. The family has solar panels on their home already and welcomed the opportunity to offer their property for larger-scale solar because of the benefits of renewable energy for the planet. It also aligns with their plans to raise livestock and can use the fenced solar array for pasturing the lambs, which further utilizes the land while keeping the grass down around the panels.
“After purchasing our property in 2014 our goal was to return 25 acres of field into usable land,” explains the property owner (who wishes to remain anonymous). “We had 10 acres of new growth pasture pine and after several years, we reclaimed approximately 6 acres as hay fields. This left a parcel that was still in need of finishing. Working with Norwich Solar allowed us to finish our goal of utilizing the last 4 acres of land. This project, in addition to solar panels on our home, allowed us to further our green energy goals.”
The solar field is estimated to produce ~1,000,000kWh per year which is enough to power 138 homes for a full year. In terms of carbon emission reduction, the 4 acre Fairlee array reduces 781 tons of CO2 annually; roughly the equivalent of carbon sequestered by 839 acres of forest for a full year.
As the sole customer of the site, Kinney Drugs (a subsidiary of KPH Healthcare Services) will receive credit for nearly 100% of the energy produced by the array. The company is a well-recognized regional business with 22 drug stores operating in Vermont and has more than 100 locations in total. As an employee-owned company, they focus on delivering quality care and cost savings to their customers. By purchasing solar power through community-scale net metering, Kinney Drugs is making sound business investments that reduce their energy costs and support ecological benefits that reduce carbon emissions.
“We are thrilled to partner with Norwich as the sole off taker of the solar project in Fairlee, VT”, stated Mike Burgess KPH’s Vice President of Financial Planning and Treasury. “KPH is committed to do our part in supporting the development of local renewable energy within our community and help to preserve the environment for generations to come. This is the second significant solar strategy we have implemented in recent years.”
Power Management Company (PMC), KPH’s trusted energy advisor of Rochester, NY, helped facilitate the arrangement between KPH and Norwich Solar. PMC has helped KPH implement strategic energy initiatives from negotiating competitive energy supply agreements to portfolio-wide efficient lighting upgrades for nearly 20 years. Norwich Solar designed and developed the 500kW AC solar array in Fairlee, VT with support from Mascoma Bank, and will own and operate the array. It was easy for Kinney Drugs to sign up and start accessing the benefits of net metered solar power at no cost. By combining solar energy with other energy-saving initiatives, Kinney Drugs can reduce their energy costs by up to 30%.
“It was a great experience getting to know and work with the entire Norwich Solar team from start to finish, “said Michael Hedges, PMC’s Vice President of Sales. “This type of Community Solar transaction allows KPH to foster development of local renewable energy, while keeping their rooftops free of solar panels. We commend Mike Burgess and his team at KPH as they continue to be a leader in the marketplace.”