This 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. It is expected to generate approximately 184,000kWh annually along with a considerable reduction of the members’ carbon footprint.
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.
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 allowing New Hampshire residents an easier way to participate 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.
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.