EAST HADDAM – RER Energy Group, project partners, town officials and other local dignitaries gathered Saturday at Shagbark Lumber and Farm Supplies to officially commission the installation of Shagbark’s solar farm.
This is the second solar project Shagbark Lumber, located at 21 Mt. Parnassus Road, has installed, according to a press release.
In 2014, working with the Connecticut Green Bank as a consulting and financing partner, Shagbark installed a 150kW solar rooftop array that now provides 100 percent of the facility’s electrical needs.
“Since the success of our first solar project, it’s been our vision to build a solar farm that will provide low-cost power to others,” Julia Leonardo, controller for Shagbark Lumber, said in a prepared statement. “If we could use our land, and enable our local East Haddam School District to derive significant savings on its electric bill through solar, that would go a long way to help us realize that vision,” she said.
Under Connecticut’s Remote Net Metering regulations, ongoing agricultural use of the land by Shagbark was required in order for the town of East Haddam to be able to get the best price for energy for the school system, the release continues. This materially affected the options for ownership and financing of the project.
RER’s financing partner General Energy Solutions was comfortable with a nontraditional structure of owning a majority interest in the solar farm, with Shagbark as a minority partner, continuing to produce hay from adjacent land, the release said. GES will maintain and monitor the solar farm for the next 25 years.
The solar farm consists of 4,554 ground-mounted, 335-watt photovoltaic solar panels and covers nearly 6 acres. The system will produce more than 1,736,000 kWh of low-cost renewable energy annually, according to the release. All that energy will be passed on to the East Haddam Public Schools, reducing the energy bill by a projected $750,000 over the next 25 years.
In consultation with the Connecticut Green Bank, Shagbark was also able to win an award of low emission renewable energy credits that provided additional financing support for the solar project. For every kWh of electricity produced by the solar array over the next 15 years, Shagbark and GES will receive, from Eversource, a payment which helps pay for the installation over time, according to the press release. This allows Eversource to meet its targets for producing electricity from renewable energy sources.
Another major hurdle was the engineering challenge posed by the slope of the land. Successfully managing this issue, as well as a number of regulatory issues that resulted from the unique partnership between the town, Shagbark and GES, RER was able to bring the experience needed to oversee building the system, within budget and on time, the release concludes.
As originally published on www.middletownpress.com.
About RER Energy Group
RER Energy Group is an industry leader in providing cost-effective, high-quality solar systems throughout the United States and Latin America. The company has developed more than 55 megawatts of solar energy, obtaining over $30 million in grant proceeds for commercial, industrial, agricultural, municipal, and non-profit customers. For more information, visit www.rerenergygroup.com.