Putney's community solar project grows


PUTNEY -- SunFarm opened Vermont's first community solar array last year.

The project allowed any Green Mountain Power customer in the state to purchase their own panels in the 144-kilowatt array and begin using the solar power, and saving money.

Now SunFarm is starting to gather customers for its second community solar array, a 150-kw, 500-panel array which will be located along River Road in Putney.

"The first array has exceeded our expectations and it is producing about 10 percent more electricity than we thought," said Sun Farm founder Nick Ziter. "There was a lot of interest in the first one and now we are starting another array in Putney and trying to get people signed up before we go on line."

Green Mountain Power was still finalizing its merger with CVPS when the first array went on line and so former CVPS customers could not buy in. With the merger now complete the new array will be available to about 70 percent of the state's business and residential electricity customers.

Also, SunFarm has developed a financing arrangement with Vermont State Employee Credit Union that makes it easier to finance the panels.

"A lot of people in Vermont want to support solar power but if you rent, or if you have shade where you live, it is not so easy to build your own array," Ziter said. "This model works because it makes it easy for any GMP customer to use solar power no matter where you are."

Ziter hopes to serve about 50 homes and businesses and have the new array on line by this summer.

He says the array will produce about $40,000 in collective savings during the first year.

About 40 percent of the panels in new array have already been purchased, Ziter said.

Ziter is working with Clean Energy Collective again on the second array. Clean Energy Collective is a Colorado company that developed a financing and permitting model for community-owned solar projects.

The new solar array in Putney will use the same model that Sun Farm used to develop the first one, which is located near Santa's Land, along Route 5 in Putney. Sun Farm leases the land from the owner and customers purchase the solar equipment.

All of the billing is done through the GMP bill, and if the customer moves somewhere else in GMP territory he or she can retain ownership of the panels and continue to use the solar power.

For more information on the community solar project go to www.sunfarmvt.com or call 802-536-4471

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 279, or hwtisman@reformer.com. Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.


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