Archive for the ‘Projects’ Category

Solar panels help add jobs, cut costs at Bingham’s North Country Rivers

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

north-country-solarWhen the sun beats down on the roof of the equipment barn at North Country Rivers this summer, it will be doing more than drying off the kayaks and whitewater rafting equipment scattered around the outside of the building.

With the help of more than 140 solar panels installed last week, the energy from the sun will be captured and converted into electricity that will fuel about 50 percent of the resort’s energy needs.

The $105,000 project, which was partly funded with a federal grant, is part of an overall $250,000 energy revamp at the resort that started in 2011 with a desire to be more environmentally friendly and reduce energy costs, said owner Jim Murton. The savings generated from energy costs so far has also helped expand North Country Rivers into a year-round operation and since 2011 has added about 15 full-time year-round jobs.

“We really wanted to be open 12 months a year and have a payroll 12 months a year for our key employees,” Murton said. “We really had to look at controlling energy costs if we wanted to stay open in the winter. This was really a key driving force in allowing us to go year-round and be a four-season outfitter.”

Full article is available here: https://www.centralmaine.com/2015/05/17/solar-panels-help-add-jobs-cut-costs-at-binghams-north-country-rivers/


Mt. Vernon Couple Powers Heat, Business, and Life with Solar PV

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Wayne Davis Solar Powered Heat Pump

Wayne Davis with his solar powered heat pump!

When Wayne Davis and his wife Christine bought an old village garage in 2003, solar wasn’t part of their grand renovation plan.

The garage / service station, perched on the northwest shore of Minnehonk Lake in Mount Vernon, ME, had been abandoned for many years… and had seen better days. “It took me a year and a half to make it livable, and another year and a half to fix it up,” says Wayne, a retired professor of marine ecology and current course leader with Landmark Worldwide.

Twelve years later, their home is also their business, The Lakeside Loft. “Our vision was always to have this place be a lure for friends and family,” says Wayne, and with many repeat guests arriving year after year to enjoy the swimming, kayaking and canoeing right outside Lakeside Loft’s door, that vision is assured.

The Road to Solar

Wayne met ReVision for the first time in 2013 at the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity, ME, and had a positive experience from the start. “It’s obvious that ReVision is committed to creating a better future, that they’re here for the long term. With solar, it’s about much more than energy – it’s about stability and independence as well.”

A few months later, Wayne committed to an on-site evaluation with ReVision system designer Hans Albee. According to Wayne, “Hans answered all of my questions, was very helpful and accessible, but he also deepened my education about solar. He gave me good advice and left room to ask questions, and I was allowed to make decisions that were right for me.”

After conducting a shade analysis and learning more about his site, Wayne learned his standing seam metal roof could handle twice as much solar electric as he would need to offset his CMP bill. With that in mind, Wayne looked into offsetting his oil heating costs with air source heat pumps.

Now Wayne and Christine’s rooftop is covered with 33 Canadian Solar panels, each rated at 255 watts, and have three heat pumps within the building – one in their primary residence and two to heat and cool their guest rooms. Thankfully, Wayne has also taken care to keep track of his solar production!

Solar PV Generation - Wayne Davis

The Future Depends on Today

“Our installation team, especially Ryan (Herz, master electrician), was very knowledgeable,” says Wayne. “I’ve been so happy with ReVision’s extraordinary customer service. I can trust in the product and the people. One of the key elements to a successful business is happy employees – if you don’t take care of the people who take care of the customers, it’s apparent – with ReVision, you can see happiness on everyone’s faces.”

When asked about the future of energy, Wayne is optimistic. “Our saving grace is that the next generation will be so capable – they’ll have a great capacity to handle the things we can’t. The future is in development right now, and we’re waking up to what we need versus what we really don’t, especially as resources are shrinking.” Wayne calls to mind a memorable quote from Martin Luther King, Jr: “‘We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.’ The truth is that it’s cost effective to live as brothers, and it’s also an imperative.”

The Lakeside Loft is ready to welcome you in 2015! Learn more about Wayne and Christine’s guest house at http://www.thelakesideloft.com/.


Q&A with Peter Christensen: “We must lead from the bottom since they can’t lead from the top.”

Monday, March 30th, 2015
Solar Hot Water System Standish Maine

Peter Christensen’s home uses solar hot water panels for domestic hot water, seamlessly backed up by a fully-automated pellet boiler which also supplies heat for his 3,200 sq. ft. home

 

We spoke to Peter Christensen, a politically active retired teacher who lives in Standish. A Vietnam Vet, Peter told us how his experience in overseas wars shaped his perception of energy and how local grassroots action is required to reshape our society to a more humane and sustainable one.

Tell us a bit about yourself – how did you get interested in solar?

I’ve been interested in energy issues my whole life, mainly because of wars, and the oil embargo of 1973, I guess. I observed that the wars from the 80s on were mostly related to energy and the grounds for those wars (particular Iraq) quite suspect. At the same time, I have had the opportunity to see how far ahead of us they are in Europe. My daughter lives in Denmark; every time I come back home after visiting her I ask myself, “Why are we so far behind in renewable energy, and how do we catch up?”

This is important stuff: I went into the Navy because I didn’t see many other options for me as a young person. As a teacher, I have seen several former students become casualties in overseas conflicts. Our dependence on fossil fuel is a national security issue and we need to treat it that way.

So you followed solar for a long time, what made you decide to finally purchase a system?

I retired in 2013 and made a commitment to use some of our savings to take control of our energy needs. I initially met someone at ReVision Energy at an anti tar sands rally and had him come over to evaluate our situation. I started with a solar hot water system which replaced an on-demand propane unit. I was surprised to see a savings of over 100 gallons of propane per person in the first year!

Now, we have a 3,200 sq. ft. home which originally had electric baseboard (1.5 or 2 cents per kilowatt hour in 1975). We mainly heated with six cords of wood (since 1976), but after all these years we wanted to add centralized heat! Having been to Denmark, I was made aware of pellet heating systems, and was excited to learn this technology had made it to the United States through your sister company, ReVision Heat.

I learned that we were the first to combine this new fully-automated feed system pellet boiler with solar hot water. Whenever the solar hot water tank needs more heat, the Kedel is set up to run automatically to supply that heat.

Christensen SHW plus pellets

A recent study (Maine Forest Service, 2011) found that Maine’s forests could sustainably heat 10-25% of the homes in Maine using the wood pellet resource. It’s a resource that we can and should effectively manage. And of course, the solar resource is unlimited.

What do you like best about the system now that it’s installed?

Well as I said, I was impressed that the payback on the solar hot water system as it appears the pay back will be less than the predicted 7-8 years (assuming propane does not increase in price). But from a societal perspective, it’s really important to me that people can see the system, understand how it works, and then become involved themselves. Once one solar energy system appears in a community, many more will surely follow as observed in my trips to the Town of Greenfield, Massachusetts. That’s what the Solarize Sacopee initiative is all about.

We have to be honest – we must lead from the bottom since we are not being lead from the top. We are facing catastrophic environmental changes due to our use of fossil fuel energy and it effects our society negatively in so many other ways. I recommend watching two short, 15 minute TED talks. Rear Admiral Titley concerning such events. (http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/TEDxPentagon-Rear-Admiral-David) and the former Chief Climatologist of NASA, James Hansen (http://www.ted.com/talks/james_hansen_why_i_must_speak_out_about_climate_change).

When I started working at Lake Region High School in Bridgton back in 1972, there were solar hot water panels on the roof that produced about 500 gallons of hot water a day for the school. That system was not kept up and then we had no renewable energy until towards the end of my career. In 2009, the forward looking school district (SAD 61) installed a fully automated pellet boiler for the entire school. A deliver truck fills a 20-ton hopper providing the fuel for the entire school for a minimum of two weeks in the coldest season.

The possibilities are very impressive when we implement the new technologies, and we should improve access for those who wish to utilize renewable systems, but cannot yet afford them. If the effective interbank rate for loans continues to be zero, then zero percent loans should be available for renewable energy projects.

 


An energy-efficient, solar-powered home in Canterbury

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

mcguinn-smith-house-canterbury-nhPowered by the sun and heated with not one drop of fossil fuel, Ruth Smith and Beth McGuinn’s home reflects their commitment to sustainability and energy efficiency—and a passion to share their knowledge and home with others.

The two-story, 1,800-square-foot saltbox-style home, called FeatherLeaf Farm, has been opened to the public during several home and garden tours hosted by church, community and green building groups—both during and after construction.

“We wanted to build a green, energy-efficient home that would be accessible to people,” she says. “We want to show this is a house anybody can build. We didn’t want it to be a complicated science project.”

Full article available here: http://www.nhhomemagazine.com/March-April-2015/An-energy-efficient-solar-powered-home-in-Canterbury/


Near Net Zero on a Community Scale

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

belfast cohousing solar
In December 2013, an ice storm caused an extended power outage in Maine, leaving many residents scrambling to keep their pipes from freezing. But even with no utility electricity for five days, below-freezing temperatures, primarily overcast conditions, and no supplemental heat, the homes at Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage (BC&E) lost only 2°F a day, on average, for a total drop of 8°F to 10°F. Nearby homes, by contrast, were below freezing after 24 hours.

Although the homes aren’t certified, the Passive House Institute US standards guided the design process. A southerly orientation; generous south-facing glazing; triple-pane windows and doors; lots of insulation; airtight construction; and a compact footprint resulted in a 90% reduction in the energy used for space heating compared to the average house. The homes share walls, reducing the exterior surface area and heat loss to the outside.

Full article is available here: http://www.homepower.com/articles/home-efficiency/project-profiles/near-net-zero-community-scale