Solar project begins at ConVal High School

  • Solar panels are being installed on top of ConVal High School. Courtesy photo—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/12/2021 12:57:29 PM

The ConVal solar project, which has been in the works for almost four years, is finally underway.

The ConVal School District has hired ReVision Energy to install the 247-kilowatt array of 555 panels on the ConVal High School roof. Through a Power Purchase Agreement, the array will be installed at no cost to the school, and the school’s energy costs are expected to decrease by 7.2 cents per kilowatt-hour in the first year.

Dan Weeks, the vice president of business development at ReVision, is the project developer and a ConVal grad. Weeks said ReVision is committed to getting the array fully installed by the end of the year.

Construction began the week of Oct. 24, and the active installation will occur throughout November. This includes craning the array onto the roof, and running wire pathways from the panels to the electric distribution panel. Afterwards, the array will undergo numerous inspections, and ReVision is hoping to receive permission to operate by mid-December.

In addition to the array, ReVision is providing an electric-vehicle charger to be mounted on the side of the high school. The EV charger will draw energy from the school’s power grid, which will be partially fueled by the solar panels. Due to supply chain shortages, the charger is delayed, Weeks said, but it is set to be installed in the coming months.

The ConVal solar project will help Peterborough fulfill its pledge to 100% renewable energy by 2050. Statewide, less than 1% of New Hampshire’s total energy is generated through solar, while Massachusetts’s total energy production is about 18.5% solar. This is primarily due to the fact that policy regarding renewable energy is outdated in the state, Weeks said, which could change if citizens pressure leaders to update legislation.

Abigail Kamieniecki is the student school board representative, and represents the student body at board meetings. Kamieniecki said she is excited the installation is finally underway after hearing about the project a few years ago, but she doesn’t believe that many students are aware of the scope of the project.

“Students know that people are working on the school, but I feel like they don’t exactly know what’s happening,” Kamieniecki says.

Weeks has offered to come into the high school and provide students with an analysis on how the array works and answer any questions they may have.

Emily Manns, chair of the Peterborough Energy Committee and an advocate for the project, said she agrees how important education is on the topics brought up by solar panel installation. The project encompasses technology, sustainability, engineering, arts and advocacy, which can all be explained to the students.

The school will have access to information on the real-time production of the solar panels, which Weeks hopes will be displayed on monitors throughout the school.

Weeks and Manns hope others will follow ConVal’s precedent.

“The fact that ConVal is taking this step can inspire other schools and other families to go solar or buy an electric car,” Weeks said.

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