VBM: Acorn Energy Co-op $700,000 solar project moves forward in Middlebury

Oct 24, 2011 No Comments by

Reposted from Vermontbiz.com.


The community solar photovoltaic project organized by the Acorn Renewable Energy Co-op of Middlebury is about to become a reality. The project has now received its Certificate of Public Good (CPG) from the Vermont Public Service Board as well as final approval by the board of directors at Co-operative Insurance Companies of Middlebury.

Acorn Energy Solar One LLC (AESO), the legal entity that will own the project, has secured a $165,000 loan from the Vermont Small Business Development Corp., as well as a similar sized loan from the National Bank of Middlebury to help finance the $700,000 project. The ground mounted solar array is expected to generate 172,500 kilowatt hours of electricity each year—enough to provide electricity to 30 average homes, according to AESO.


“We are very excited to have received the CPG as well as board approval from Co-operative Insurance,” says Greg Pahl, board president of the Acorn Renewable Energy Co-op. “This gives us the green light to move forward with this exciting solar electric project.”


The community solar project is a collaboration between the Acorn Renewable Energy Co-op, The Town of Middlebury and Co-operative Insurance Companies of Middlebury. Co-operative Insurance is providing $326,000 in equity financing for a 95% ownership stake in the project, and will receive one-third of the electricity produced by the solar array.


“Our board was very positive about making the investment in renewable energy,” says Dave Tatlock, Chief Financial Officer of Co-op Insurance. “As a Co-op ourselves, we like the cooperative nature of this project.”


“We are pleased to be a part of this collaboration, to begin to move toward greater energy independence,” says G. Kenneth Perine, National Bank of Middlebury President.


AESO worked with Encore Redevelopment of Burlington on project development activities and has also signed an agreement with Alteris Renewables, Inc. of Montpelier for construction of the 148-kilowatt project to be located to the north and slightly west of the Middlebury Police Station off Lucius Shaw Lane.


In addition, AESO also formally signed a 25-year lease with the Town of Middlebury for the use of the acre of town-owned land located at the former wastewater treatment plant site that will host the group net metered, 528-panel, photovoltaic array. In return, the town will receive annual payments starting at $1,000 per year as well as one-third of the electricity generated by the array.


“We are very pleased to see this land being put to productive use in a way that will benefit the community,” says Bill Finger, Middlebury’s Town Manager. “We appreciate all the work that the Acorn Energy Co-op board members have put into making this project become a reality.”


The remaining third of the project’s electricity output will be made available to 16 Acorn Energy Co-op members as subscribers under a group net-metering arrangement. In the event of an oversubscription, the individual Energy Co-op members will be selected through a lottery, providing each of them an equal chance to participate.


The project is the first co-op/co-op/municipality collaboration for a group net-metered solar project in the state, and is viewed as a model that other communities could replicate. An official groundbreaking ceremony is expected within the next few weeks.


“We feel that community ownership of local renewable energy projects is extremely important, and we hope that Acorn Energy Solar One will inspire other communities around the state to organize projects of their own,” Pahl says.


The Acorn Renewable Energy Co-op is a member-owned cooperative serving residents and businesses in Addison, Rutland, and Chittenden counties. The Co-op provides education, outreach, products and services that help members of area communities make the transition from our present reliance on fossil fuels to greater use of renewables and local solutions. For more information, or to join the Acorn Renewable Energy Co-op acornenergycoop.com

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