Mascoma Meadows solar panels

LEBANON — The first solar array of its kind at a manufactured home community in New Hampshire will be unveiled during a ribbon cutting ceremony on Nov. 28. The solar project will benefit the Resident Owned Community (ROC) of Mascoma Meadows, one of dozens of ROCs across the state. The power generated by the array enables each of the participating cooperative's low and moderate-income households to reduce their carbon footprint and save nearly $240 each year. In addition, participating recipients are eligible for energy efficiency and weatherization measures from Liberty Utilities.

The 132.48-kilowatt ground-mounted array was installed by ReVision Energy on land donated to the cooperative by the neighboring Abundant Life Church of God. The array includes 384 solar panels and is forecast to produce 176,507-kilowatt hours of electricity each year. The clean energy generated by the array will offset 185,862 pounds of carbon pollution each year, which is equivalent to the carbon sequestered by 99 acres of forests or 92,238 pounds of coal burned.

The project's cost is covered in part by a grant from the Renewable Energy Fund managed by the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC). In July 2017 the New Hampshire legislature passed SB129, ordering 15 percent of the Renewable Energy Fund be dedicated to and directly benefit low to moderate-income New Hampshire residents.

Individually, these residents cannot access federal incentives, but the Mascoma Meadows Cooperative leverages federal solar investment tax credits by working through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with aReVision Solar Impact Partner (RSIP), an innovative impact investing fund launched this year by ReVision Energy. The PPA enables Mascoma Meadows to access the long-term economic and environmental benefits of solar electricity while providing an opportunity for an investor to finance a project that aligns with their values.

Mascoma Meadows Cooperative hosts the solar array and will receive the funds from the Liberty Utilities net metering program to pay the PPA costs and to reduce lot rents for their residents. After five years, the cooperative may purchase the array at a discount with financing from the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund.

The cooperative structure of ROCs provides an opportunity for low to moderate-income community solar projects because it enables a single representative entity that engages with developers and investors on behalf of the community. Vermont Law School's Energy Clinic along with funding support from the James Trust Foundation is facilitating low-income solar access by turning the success of the Mascoma Meadows pilot project into a model that can work for more of the 124 ROCs in New Hampshire and throughout the nation.

"The model developed for Mascoma Meadows helps break some of the barriers to lower-income residents owning solar,” said Christa Shute, Vermont Law School’s Energy Fellow for Climate Justice. “The VLS Energy Clinic looks forward to finding the next ROC to benefit from community-owned solar.”

The project was coordinated with assistance from the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund along with contributions and pro bono work from attorney Elijah Emerson of Primmer, Piper, Eggleston & Cramerand Vermont Law School’s Energy Clinic.

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