This post has two parts: The feel-good main story, and a tough but true statement on how Massachusetts solar policy is stifling commercial solar development, which I’ve restricted to the inset box. On to the fun stuff.
You’ve heard the saying “practice what you preach.” At Nature’s Classroom, they practice what they teach.
If you’re a parent whose kids attended sixth grade at a New England public school, chances are you know Nature’s Classroom. The Charlton, Mass.-based non-profit organization runs environmental education programs at 13 sites in the region. Many of us have sent our 12-year-old children off on their first extended overnight trip away from home, in the care of Nature’s Classroom.
We’re very happy to collaborate with them on their sixth solar energy system, which is our fifth solar project together. New England Clean Energy just completed the installation of a 68-kilowatt (kW), 200-panel solar energy system, which will supply about 60% of the electricity used at the Pond Side campus. The system should be turned on in April after utility approvals are received.
Director John Santos explains why he cares so much about getting the facility’s energy from renewable sources: “Hundreds of students and teachers visit our Charlton campus every year to learn about science and the environment in an integrated curriculum. It’s important that we also integrate educational messages into our actual operations. Using non-polluting renewable energy makes our messages carry more weight as far as I’m concerned. Based on the positive comments we get from educators and students, I’d say they agree.”
The existing renewable energy systems cover about 94% of the electricity for the main campus and save the organization about $2,800 per year. Savings will jump after Nature’s Classroom pays off the leases on several of the systems.
Nature’s Classroom financed 100% of the cost of the new system with a 15-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) from Technology Credit Corporation (TCC). For 15 years, TCC will own the system and Nature’s Classroom will purchase the electricity it produces at a discount compared to utility prices. Nature’s Classroom keeps the rights to sell the SRECs, allowing it to generate new income.
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