The Norwich Union Village Solar Project (NUVSP) in Vermont went online in August. It is a mixed-use community residential and commercial project, half-owned by a total of sixteen households within the community and half by an investor. It was designed, permitted, built, and will be operated by Norwich Solar Technologies (NST).
NUVSP is one of only a few mixed residential and commercial community solar projects in Vermont.
The residential community members who signed on to the project were participants in a Solarize Norwich campaign that was promoted by the Norwich Energy Committee (NEC). Linda Gray, a NEC member, told us that Norwich has done a Solarize Norwich campaign every year since 2012, typically seeing 25 to 30 households get solar systems as a result. The Town of Norwich has one of the highest percentages (25%) of households (325 out of 1300) that have adopted solar. She said that developing a mixed-use community solar project is more difficult than simpler solar systems because of all the different coordination that has to be done.
As one of NST’s Community Impact Investors, Paul Bozuwa worked with NST to set up a limited liability corporation as the investor for the commercial half of NUVSP. It is supplying electricity credits from the project to the Norwich Fire District and the Town of Fairlee through net-metering. Because the solar credits are being sold under a long-term contract to municipal entities, the investment is considered to be low risk and qualify for low bank interest rates. The off-takers, owners, builders, and others involved are local to Norwich, Vermont.
Mascoma Bank provided financing for the commercial half of the project and several households. Mascoma is a B-Corp, set up for public benefit. It has significant experience with financing both residential and commercial solar systems, a fact that can benefit customers a great deal.