Community solar array coming to Jaffrey

ReVision Energy solar adviser Anna Heard presents information about a community solar array planned to be built in Jaffrey during a public information session at the Jaffrey Public Library on Tuesday night.

ReVision Energy solar adviser Anna Heard presents information about a community solar array planned to be built in Jaffrey during a public information session at the Jaffrey Public Library on Tuesday night. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

ReVision Energy solar adviser Anna Heard presents information about a community solar array planned to be built in Jaffrey during a public information session at the Jaffrey Public Library on Tuesday night.

ReVision Energy solar adviser Anna Heard presents information about a community solar array planned to be built in Jaffrey during a public information session at the Jaffrey Public Library on Tuesday night. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

ReVision Energy solar adviser Anna Heard presents information about a community solar array planned to be built in Jaffrey during a public information session at the Jaffrey Public Library on Tuesday night.

ReVision Energy solar adviser Anna Heard presents information about a community solar array planned to be built in Jaffrey during a public information session at the Jaffrey Public Library on Tuesday night. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI

By ASHLEY SAARI

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 06-06-2024 11:46 AM

Modified: 06-13-2024 9:09 AM


For those who are renters, or have a shaded roof, the goal of renewable solar energy might be out of reach.

One potential solution is a community-owned solar field, such as the one expected to be built in Jaffrey and operational by next year.

During a presentation at the Jaffrey Public Library Tuesday, Anna Heard, a solar adviser for ReVision Energy, detailed how the array would work and how residents who might not be able to support solar on their own property can purchase a share and become a part-owner.

ReVision Energy has been approved to build a 1.3-megawatt array on the Jaffrey-owned capped landfill. Customers could purchase shares of the array, based on their energy consumption, and own a portion of the energy produced. The energy is fed into the electric grid, and owners receive a credit on their electric bill.

While ReVision manages several community solar farms in Maine, this would be the first community farm of its kind in New Hampshire.

“It expands solar access to people who could not traditionally access it,” said Heard. “Any household, business owner, renter or condo owner, could buy in.”

Shareholders do not have to live in proximity to the field, or even in Jaffrey, to purchase shares – but they must be within the service territory for Eversource in New Hampshire. They do not have to be an Eversource customer, however, as those who are customers of third-party suppliers such as Direct Energy or Standard Power still qualify.

Heard said the average share, based on usage, would be about 10 kilowatts, though the Jaffrey array has already sold shares as large as 45 kilowatts and as small as 2.5 kilowatts. The cost for a 10-kilowatt share is anticipated to be about $35,000, which is paid up-front, said Heard.

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Heard said the shares are treated like assets. If an owner moves out of Eversource New Hampshire territory, they can sell their share privately or through ReVision. It can be willed to a beneficiary, and that beneficiary can use it (if they are an Eversource customer) or sell it.

Shares are calculated to cover projected electricity use over the course of the year, but in the case there is excess energy produced, customers receive a credit on their bills, and an annual payout from Eversource if the excess crosses a particular tipping point.

That up-front cost covers electricity produced from the array over its lifespan of 25 or more years, Heard said, and depending on usage, would eventually pay itself off.

In one model shown by Heard, a person whose average electricity consumption is about $158 per month could expect to pay about $69,273 over the course of the next 25 years, accounting for additional Eversource fees and a 3% annual inflation.

Someone with the same electricity needs could pay $41,838 for a solar share, which would pay itself off about halfway into the 25-year life of the system. And many systems exceed that 25-year lifespan, although productivity does decrease over time, Heard said.

The price also does not take into account the current federal tax credit available for owners of solar systems. The tax credit allows for up to 30% of that up-front investment to be recouped through an income tax credit. For those that don’t have enough income tax to cover the entire 30%, the credit would roll over to the next year, for up to five years.

Purchasing a share in the community farm will not fit everyone, Heard said. For example, public utility rules prevent anyone who already owns their own on-site solar, or owns a share in another community solar from participating.

Shareholders must also have the capital to pay for their share up front. While it is projected to ultimately save consumers costs over the long run, the up-front price requires essentially paying electric bills up front for the next decade or more.

There are also a limited number of shares available, based on the needs of the customers buying in and the amount of energy produced by the array.

Despite those limitations, Heard said the model has been successful when implemented in other states. The farms in Maine that ReVision Energy manages now have long waiting lists, she said.

“If you want to access the environmental and financial benefits of solar,  but can’t have it on-site, this would be a great alternative,” Heard said.

For informat ion, visit revisionenergy.com or call 603-679-1777.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172, Ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on X @AshleySaariMLT.