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Beam Me Up! New Exeter Solar Array Almost Done

It will help power the Public Works Department.

The following is a news release:

The new solar photovoltaic array at Exeter’s Waste Water Treatment Plant is scheduled to begin soaking up the sun within the next few weeks.

The ground mounted 50-kilowatt array, located on Exeter’s Department of Public Works campus, will produce up to 5% of the plant’s electricity, resulting in an estimated savings of $31,000 over the next 10 years.

In 2009, the town of Exeter began investigating solar photovoltaic generation and the WWTP as a potential location for an array. Led by Selectwoman Julie Gilman the Town’s energy committee found several different initiatives for projects that would help stabilize the Town’s energy costs.

“I’m very excited about the work of our volunteer committee and the completion of this project we pursued. The WWTP has substantial energy costs and we need to make every effort to reduce that cost,” said Gilman. “We are looking forward to getting online."

The town invited solar power developers to provide a project bid in response to their Request for Proposals. Revolution Energy of Portsmouth was selected to construct the array and provide a Purchase Power Agreement (PPA) in which the Town agrees to purchase the energy generated by the system over a 10 year contract, but sees no upfront costs.

At the end of the 10 years, the town will have the opportunity to buy out the contract and own the array.

“While the array will only cover a portion of the Town’s energy load, it is a step in the right direction,” says Mike Behrmann of Revolution Energy. “Exeter has made some terrific decisions that help create energy and budget stability far into the future, and the Town should be applauded for it!"

The project was carried out through a combination of state and federal funding. A $100,000 grant from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) helped offset the upfront installation costs for the town. The EECBG is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which was created to make clean and efficient energy technologies a priority for communities across the country.

Once the array is completed and solar power generation begins, the public will have access to a website which will allow them to monitor the system and track its performance.

“We’re already getting questions and compliments from the community as they drive by and see the work progress,” said Gilman.

The town of Exeter is taking great steps toward sustainability.

“Exeter High School took the lead in getting alternative energy up and running in Exeter,” said Gilman. “We want to show that we, as a municipality, can move toward sustainable energy solutions and look forward to more projects in the future.”

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