Extra Maine public faculties get photo voltaic vitality

5 public faculties in rural communities throughout Knox and Lincoln counties have began getting most of their electrical energy from a photo voltaic array within the Androscoggin County city of Livermore Falls, federal officers stated Monday.

The U.S. Division of Agriculture introduced $15.2 million in funding for the 14,000-panel Souther Farm photo voltaic array and 4 others prefer it in Maine and New Hampshire.

ReVision Power’s photo voltaic venture on the Harold Souther farm in Livermore Falls, final spring. Russ Dillingham/Solar Journal

The Livermore Falls set up will present 96% of the electrical energy used within the Camden-Rockport College District, Camden Hills Regional Excessive College, Mount Blue Regional College District, Regional College Unit 73 and Hope Elementary College, in response to the USDA.

A few of the electrical energy may also go to the Farmington Water District. In all, the venture is predicted to supply 6.5 kilowatt-hours of fresh vitality yearly.

For the 5 City College District, Camden-Rockport Faculties and College Unit 69, solar-generated electrical energy goes hand-in-hand with different efforts to reduce the colleges’ dependence on fossil-fuel-produced electrical energy, the districts’ superintendent stated.

Along with electrical energy from the Souther Farm array, Camden Hills Regional Excessive College will get electrical energy from a wind turbine and photo voltaic panels on the varsity roof, stated Superintendent Maria Libby. Camden-Rockport Center College will get a few of its warmth from a sewer thermal venture that pulls warmth from a close-by sewage therapy plant, she stated.

The district additionally simply purchased an electrical faculty bus paid for partly by a federal grant, Libby stated.

“Doing a photo voltaic farm was a pure subsequent step for us,” she stated, and the vary of other vitality tasks powering the colleges gives real-life examples for college students studying about local weather change and efforts to sluggish it.

“It’s labored rather well for us,” she stated.

The USDA stated it has begun investing $2.7 billion for photo voltaic arrays in 26 states. The clean-energy turbines will increase and modernize the nation’s rural electrical grid, in response to USDA.

Photo voltaic farms in Maine already generate 553 megawatts of electrical energy, in response to state officers, in tasks starting from rooftop panels to giant photo voltaic farms.

The Souther Farm venture, USDA officers stated, will permit the farm household to retain possession of their land by means of lease funds for the photo voltaic array. And the electrical energy generated will assist decrease prices for taxpayers in class districts and Farmington Water District ratepayers. The array was constructed by Aligned Photo voltaic Companions and ReVision Power.

Rhiannon Hampson, director of rural growth in Maine for the USDA, stated she hopes extra faculties will get a few of their energy from photo voltaic vitality as a result of that’s a superb use of taxpayer {dollars} – federal spending that may assist decrease native taxes.

“It checks so many containers,” from monetary financial savings to environmental advantages, she stated. The Souther Farm growth, specifically, Hampson stated, exhibits that clear vitality tasks “might be harmonious” with Maine’s heritage industries, equivalent to farming.

“I’m hopeful we’ll see an increasing number of of it,” she stated.

The USDA additionally stated Monday that it’s funding 4 extra photo voltaic arrays which might be going surfing in New Hampshire, offering electrical energy in Carroll, Merrimack and Hillsborough counties.

In New Hampshire, photo voltaic arrays will present energy to a processing facility for Stonyfield Farms, an natural yogurt maker and dairy firm, in Londonderry, reducing its electrical energy prices considerably. Photo voltaic arrays in Conway, Loudon and two in Nashua are anticipated to supply practically 7.1 million kilowatt hours of electrical energy yearly.

The lower-cost electrical energy, firm and USDA officers stated, ought to permit Stonyfield Farms increase and create extra jobs whereas reducing carbon emissions.

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