In partnership with the NH Electric Cooperative (NHEC), the Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative (PAREI) is rolling out a new program called NH Solar Shares. NH Solar Shares will design and install solar PV arrays for the purpose of sharing solar energy with low income families, increasing the portion of clean renewable energy on the grid and building healthier, more environmentally sustainable communities.
These small community-scale solar PV arrays will be built one community at a time, inspired by a task force of local volunteers and funded through charitable donations, grants, the state’s solar incentive and a donated lease of land. The majority of the PV electricity will be credited directly to the electric bills of low income families living in the region of the solar PV array.
“We are excited to work with NH Solar Shares and support its effort to engage the community to make this concept a reality,” said Steve Camerino, President of NHEC. “As an electric cooperative, we are committed to finding creative ways to serve the needs and interests of all of our members. The NH Solar Shares project will reduce the impact of electric consumption on the environment while also easing the financial burden faced by some of our members living on low or fixed incomes, who juggle covering the costs of many of their basic needs.”
After the first array is built, NH Solar Shares will be recommended to families through established social service organizations and programs where income verification has already taken place. Solar Shares will be a voluntary program to which families will apply individually. In addition to wanting a portion of their power to be offset by solar energy, these families must also possess an interest in taking part in an energy education program.
Earlier this year, NH Solar Shares was chosen as a team in the national Community Solar Challenge being organized by the Department of Energy’s Sun Shot Division. Solar Shares was awarded $10,000 in technical assistance to help get the new program off the ground. The goal of NH Solar Shares within the national challenge is to build three solar PV arrays ranging in size from 25 – 50kW in communities served by NHEC by October, 2018. If the goal is met, the program will be eligible for large cash prizes.
The inaugural Solar Shares array will be built in Plymouth, NH on land donated by The Common Man Family of Restaurants, next to the Frosty Scoops ice cream stand located in the parking lot of The Common Man Inn & Spa on Main Street. When the organizers shared the project idea with Alex Ray, he commented, “I love the idea, go for the gold, let’s work together to make this happen!”
NH Solar Shares is quickly gaining a lot of early interest. “We enthusiastically support this effort”, said Roger Larochelle, Executive Director of the Squam Lakes Conservation Society. “Helping local families with renewable electricity contributes to building a stronger and more sustainable community, which is also our goal with land conservation.”
“Granite United Way supports this program and is excited to see it brought to the Greater Plymouth area. We are thrilled to partner with PAREI and New Hampshire Electric Cooperative in this effort to increase the affordability of electric service for low-income families. Our Whole Village Family Resource Center in Plymouth will be working closely with social service programs to identify program participants and maximize this opportunity,” said Patrick Tufts, President and CEO of Granite United Way.
“NH Solar Shares is seeking pioneer donors and volunteers who will get behind this new concept and get involved with the effort,” said Sandra Jones, Co-Director of PAREI and Interim Manager of NH Solar Shares. “A donation to this cause is a ‘power full’ one, it helps the environment, it increases the percentage of renewable energy on our local electrical grid and it produces a gift to our local families every hour the sun shines for the next 25 years!”
Interested donors, volunteers or community groups wanting to assist with fundraising and hosting solar arrays are encouraged to contact Sandra Jones, NH Solar Shares, PO Box 753 79 Highland Street Plymouth, NH 03264; 603-536-5030 firstname.lastname@example.org NH Solar Shares LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative – a 501-C 3 Not for Profit Tax Exempt Charitable Organization.
For more information visit www.nhsolarshares.org .