Solar project in the home stretch

Solar project in the home stretch

We’re almost ready to flip the switch!

February 2022 update: The array is now complete, and generating power for Coastal Rivers and Kieve Wavus Education! You can check out daily power production on PowerDash.

The solar installation behind Darrows Barn at Coastal Rivers Round Top Farm is nearly complete. All the panels and equipment are in place, and our contractor expects to wrap up the wiring within the next few weeks.

Generating our own electricity renewably fits in with our 5-year strategic plan, in which we set a goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025. Installing energy-efficient heat pumps to heat and cool the renovated Denny Conservation & Education Center at Round Top Farm was a big first step toward meeting this goal. Additional future plans include installing two electric vehicle charging stations at Round Top Farm and replacing some of our gas-powered equipment with electric models.

solar array at Round Top Farm

The array is laid out in 8 rows which are tucked behind the hill in back of Darrows Barn, giving it a very low profile at Round Top Farm.

The project was made possible through a partnership with Kieve-Wavus Education (KWE), which allowed us to achieve a large enough scale that our electricity rates would be lower than what we had already been paying to CMP.

Together, we invited ReVision Energy to the table, a Maine-based and cooperatively owned company. Coastal Rivers agreed to lease a small area of our land to ReVision Energy, who would build the solar installation and then sell it to a third party investor. The investor will own the system for at least five years, during which Coastal Rivers and Kieve-Wavus commit to purchasing a set amount of electricity at fixed rates from them through what’s called a Power Purchase Agreement or PPA. Through this type of arrangement, there are no up-front construction costs to either organization.

At the end of five years, once existing tax credits have been fully used up by the investor, Coastal Rivers and KWE will then have the opportunity to purchase the system if we choose to, and at a much lower price than we would have been able to initially.

Buying the system would essentially endow our clean energy usage for many decades to come, offering returns on that investment far exceeding those of a typical endowment portfolio. The PPA approach is a win-win for solar investors as well as for non-profits, which are not able to take advantage of the tax credits.

The system will generate approximately 300,000 kWh in year 1. KWE will use 75% of the power generated, while the remaining 25% will provide enough power for all Coastal Rivers’ facilities, including the Denny Conservation & Education Center and Darrows Barn at Round Top Farm, and the Nature Center at Salt Bay Farm.