Big solar farm to be installed along Route 4
By Heather Steliga, Vermont Standard Correspondent
HARTLAND – Travelers on Route 4 may have noticed a clearing off the side of the road near the intersection with Route 12 South in Hartland. As it turns out, Norwich Solar is installing 2,000 offsite solar panels for the use of Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center in Windsor.
According to Troy McBride, CTO (Chief Technology Officer) at Norwich Solar, whose offices are in White River Junction, “Community solar projects such as this are a win-win-win. They provide clean energy and savings to local customers, provide jobs, and have strong environmental and financial benefits to local people.”
McBride explains the solar array on U.S. Route 4 will significantly reduce the electric bills of Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center. He says the 500 kW array will serve the equivalent of 100 homes. Over its lifetime—which is warranted for 25 years—will offset 20 million pounds of carbon dioxide, or the equivalent of 30 million miles not driven in a car.
David Ormiston, Hartland Town Manager, said that “Hartland has approved various sites along Route 4 as preferred sites for solar powered energy.” He believes “Woodstock has been equally supportive of the State of Vermont’s goal for renewable resources.” He said that they are “sensitive” to the aesthetics of a solar farm.
McBride said that the site for the Mt. Ascutney Hospital array is in a very good location for the electricity-intensive hospital and health clinic, and that, on a hillside, it will really only be visible in “fleeting glimpses” as cars drive by at about 40 mph.
McBride called the site “ideal” because of its rolling hill quality, proximity to the highway, and other characteristics of the property, which had been unused for some time, and timbered before they purchased it. They applied for permits for the solar farm in 2017.
Construction began in November 2018 and is expected to be completed this spring.
Paul Calandrella, COO (Chief Operating Officer) of Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center, said, “We are an Energy Star certified health facility and are pleased to partner with the State of Vermont on conserving energy as much as possible in any way we can. The new solar array from which we will benefit sends a positive message out to the community we serve. We are committed to health and, environmentally, in the big picture of Vermont, the more we can reduce the carbon footprint, the better.”
“This will be the third foray into solar energy for the hospital,” Calendrella continued. “We have solar credits generated in Springfield, and on our own campus. At the end of the day, we save money, taxpayers save money, we’re helping conservation efforts for the planet…there’s really no downside.”