Students promote community solar

This spring, a group of five students from Antioch University New England are teaming up with the Monadnock Sustainability Network to bring community solar to the Monadnock region.

The name of the project is the Monadnock Community Solar Initiative, or MCSi, which reflects the strong focus on community and includes the symbol for silicon (Si), a primary component in a solar electricity. Mari Brunner, a student from Antioch working on this project for class credit as part of her Master’s degree in Environmental Studies, is excited about this project because she thinks it will give Keene residents more options and drive innovation in the energy sector.

“Community solar has many benefits,” she stated. “It is a hedge against rising fuel costs, it reduces emissions of pollutants and carbon, and it drives energy independence.”

Falling installation costs and creative new financing models have made solar projects more financially feasible, and funders can expect to see a return on investment in as little as five years. “Community solar is an emerging segment of the fast paced solar market,” states John Kondos, a founding member of the Monadnock Sustainability Network and Solar Source. “While rooftop PV is still going strong, commercial solar continued to grow last year and large scale utility projects were the largest segment of solar installed in 2013.

There are already several community solar systems just across the River in VT. The Monadnock Community Solar initiative is a result of the folks behind the Brattleboro Co-op PV system speaking at Keene Green Drinks last fall. The Antioch team will provide an initial feasibility study for the project in mid-March and propose siting alternatives for the solar project. The MCSi is currently looking to form a group of core citizens who will help develop, fund, and implement the project. Local citizens interested should contact John Kondos at to get more information.

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