State solar installations go online

MONTPELIER – Construction has been completed on three solar projects at state correctional facilities in St. Johnsbury, St. Albans and Windsor — the first projects to go online in the largest public solar initiative in the history of Vermont, according to the Shumlin administration.

The 500kW projects are part of an initiative to provide solar power to state government facilities, including all of the state’s correctional facilities, several state office buildings and the pavilion building that houses several state offices, including the offices of Gov. Peter Shumlin.

The three recently-completed projects utilize the state’s group net metering law and will provide power to 12 state facilities. The total initiative is expected to provide energy for a total of 19 state buildings. Construction of the remaining projects will continue through this year.

“Vermont is at the forefront of the renewable energy revolution in America, and this is just one more example of how we are leading the way,” Shumlin said in a statement. “We will continue to invest in energy innovation going forward because it creates jobs, saves money for Vermonters and helps ensure a more livable planet for future generations.”

The solar initiative will produce more than 7 million kilowatt hours of energy in total for state buildings each year and provide over $2.5 million in taxpayer savings over 20 years with no cost and no risk to the state, according to the administration. The projects were developed by SolarSense, a provider of renewable energy across the U.S.

Michael Obuchowski, commissioner of the Department of Buildings and General Services, also hailed the new solar installations.

“Let the sun shine on Vermont, where its captured renewable energy will power state buildings and save the taxpayers’ money while protecting the environment,” Obuchowski said.

The three completed projects all used Vermont-made AllEarth Solar Trackers, which follow the sun throughout the day to maximize energy production. The trackers are manufactured in Williston by AllEarth Renewables.

Construction of the projects began in September 2014 and were installed using local workers.

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