Monadnock Region Community Supported Solar

Monadnock Community Steps In to Help Farms Go Solar

The mixed results of local weather change, excessive working prices, and the pandemic have made it tougher than ever for small New England farms to thrive. When the Monadnock Sustainability Hub began a neighborhood solar program with the Monadnock Food Co-Op, the Cheshire County Conservation District (CCCD) noticed a chance to carry the mannequin to native farms. It’s distinctive – the primary undertaking of this sort in New Hampshire – and CCCD knew it might be tough, however they’re hoping to offer a framework that different areas within the state can replicate. CCCD did some outreach amongst native farms and located a particular curiosity in solar and a have to decrease utility payments. And so the Monadnock Region Community Supported Solar Project was born.

Craig, of Sun Moon Farm, exhibits his youngster the brand new solar array.

Sun Moon Farm, a vegetable and flower farm in Rindge, generously volunteered to host the solar array on their property, and labored intently with ReVision Energy to web site it. The array, accomplished in 2020, produces over 110,000 kWh of solar energy a yr. Of the unique shares out there, half have already been claimed by Sun Moon Farm in addition to different native Monadnock farms like Picadilly Farm, which grows natural produce.

“Community Supported Solar for Farms is an innovative and forward-thinking project,” stated Jenny and Bruce Wooster. “This will allow Picadilly Farm, and other farms in the Monadnock region, to participate in both the production and the use of renewable solar energy, while breaking down the cost barriers. With an entry cost that is significantly less than constructing our own array, this program will bring our farm crew house onto 100% renewable solar electricity use. We’re excited to be a partner in this. It’s a great time to go solar!”

The member farms are working collectively on outreach, spreading the phrase and recruiting different close by farms to hitch. The whole Monadnock meals system is already very interconnected, so a shared solar array was a pure match.

Lettuce beds at Picadilly Farm (photograph credit score: Picadilly Farm)

“It’s great to see farmers coming together to make this happen,” stated CCCD District Manager Amanda Littleton, “We want more renewable energy and less of a negative impact on the environment, but farms are also challenged to keep their businesses going so this project will help stabilize and lower energy costs.”

Financed with a Power Purchase Agreement, these farms will kind an LLC and purchase the array from the investor group at a reduced charge after 5 years. CCCD is presently crowdfunding as nicely to additional scale back the buy-in for native farms and take away as many monetary obstacles as doable. 100% of the funds raised by this marketing campaign will go to reducing the share prices for farmers (for present shares in addition to any new farms that purchase in).

“It’s been really great to see some of the community support for this,” stated Amanda. “Decreasing those input costs for farmers, it just felt like a win-win. It’s a way for the community to engage with these farms in a new way, and support more renewables. There’s been an outpouring of community support to see this project move forward; it’s inspiring, seeing everyone want to help the farms and food system in our region.”

While members of the Monadnock Region CSS should be within the Eversource utility territory, CCCD hopes that this framework can be utilized as a mannequin for different farms and organizations across the state.

“This could be a real opportunity for agricultural producers in the state, if we can harness this model and use it to benefit farms’ profitability. We hope to inspire other communities to take this on, and we are happy to help anyone who is interested in getting this started in their region,” says Amanda.

Want to hitch in and assist native farmers?

Is your neighborhood inquisitive about pursuing this mannequin? Email Amanda at CCCD to debate: [email protected]

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