Celebration Held At New Solar Facility Behind The Mall That Benefits Both School And Town
ST. JOHNSBURY — At a ribbon-cutting celebration for a new solar power site on Thursday, middle school students were handed scissors and given a challenge to improve upon good environmental stewardship practices.
Six St. Johnsbury Middle School students sliced through the ceremonial ribbon as 2,200 solar panels behind them soaked in the sun at the solar field near the Green Mountain Mall. The renewable energy project was developed by Norwich Solar Technologies of White River Junction. The project will deliver financial benefits to both the municipality and the school district of St. Johnsbury through the renewable energy credits.
About 15 middles schoolers visited the site with school officials, including their principal and superintendent. The people who spoke before the ribbon-cutting directed most of their comments toward the children.
“The one hurdle we still have is how to properly store this energy when it actually is produced on this site,” said Sen. Joe Benning, R-Caledonia-Orange. “Your generation will again be on the front lines of trying to figure out how to make that work right. So I hope you are studying real well in school.”
School Supt. Brian Ricca and St. Johnsbury Town Manager Chad Whitehead both addressed the group as collaborators on the project that benefits the town and the school because the two entities signed contracts to buy the renewable energy credits at a discounted rate, which will reduce the town and school’s energy costs.
Kevin Davis, VP of Sales for Norwich Solar, gave some specific environmental benefits of the solar project.
“Creating a project like this is the equivalent of taking 17,000 metric tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere by doing it clean instead of doing it by fossil fuels,” he said.
The array is capable of generating 915,000-kilowatt hours a year which is enough to power roughly 115 homes.
Davis estimated the town will save about $325,000 over the life of the 25-year agreement. The school will realize about $400,000 in electrical cost savings over the same amount of time.
“These partnerships matter,” said Whitehead. “Making choices that are financially responsible and environmentally responsible gain trust. When our community can see us working together to try to solve these problems, they trust us more and when they trust us more we’re allowed to step outside the boundaries and try to tackle bigger problems.”
Ricca emphasized the clean approach to power production.