Archive for the ‘Projects’ Category

Town of Durham, NH Invests in Solar with No Upfront Cost from ReVision Energy

Monday, March 24th, 2014

Durham, NH Solar Ice Skating Facility

The 300 solar panels on the Town of Durham, NH’s Churchill ice rink will provide roughly 10% of all the electricity used in the facility

Durham, NH now boasts three new solar arrays on town buildings: a 99kw solar electric system on the town’s ice rink, 16kw on the library, and 6kw on the police department. The three systems, designed, installed, and financed by ReVision Energy, were installed at no up-front cost to the town. Instead, the town will buy power from ReVision Energy at below-utility rates for 7-8 years, then have the option to buy out the three systems.

The project is the product of a strong working relationship between the town’s administrator Todd Selig, his department staff, and the Energy Committee. Durham’s 10-year master plan includes a chapter on energy, in which the town pledges to ‘reduce the environmental and societal burdens of energy consumption by purposefully minimizing its energy requirements and promoting the use of clean, renewable sources of energy.’

“We [the town] identified three areas where we could reduce our vulnerability to fossil fuel scarcity and price volatility – transportation (by converting the town fleet to fuel-efficient vehicles), housing (by encouraging growth in core downtown areas that are walkable and bikable), and through renewable energy,” says Charles Forcey, a member of the Durham Energy Committee and a ReVision Energy Customer. “Several of us on the energy committee had solar installed on our own homes, so we knew it could work on the individual level, but we wanted to see what was possible for the town.”

Getting the Process Started

Durham’s Energy Committee put out a RFQ asking companies to come up with creative, economically sound renewable energy proposals for the town. “ReVision Energy’s power purchase agreement (PPA) proposal was the most sound proposal to be sent to us, relying on no exotic grants or credits to work and providing a benefit while being tax-neutral,” Charles said.

After Durham expressed interest in the general PPA offer, ReVision Energy started work on the process of identifying viable PPA sites in the town. ReVision Energy reviewed over a dozen town properties, and ultimately identified the Churchill ice rink, police station, and library as the best sites due to their excellent south-facing rooftops and on-site power demand.

“It was a real pleasure to work with the town of Durham,” said Steve Condon, sales manager of ReVision’s Exeter branch. “There is a lot of work required behind the scenes in a project like this, and from day one the town was very much on-board with the concepts we presented and genuinely excited about taking advantage of their solar opportunities. It was refreshing to see a clear commitment to sustainability from the town manager, who is in turn supported by the town’s energy committee.”

Solar Goes Up

Durham Public Library Solar

A 15kw solar electric array sits on Durham, NH’s public library

After months of planning, the details were finalized and the three solar projects were installed at the end of 2013, with all three systems online and producing power by Christmas!

Forcey hopes the projects will help to illustrate to people with the town that solar is a viable option for meeting the town’s energy needs in the next few decades and beyond.

“There still seems to be a lot of contention when you talk about climate change,” Forcey says, “But people in the town can unite around the idea of sustainability and resiliency. Fossil fuels are a huge economic burden on the town and their price volatility leaves us vulnerable to politics in distant parts of the globe. We are trying to show that locally-produced energy sources are viable now and that the investments are needed today to give us a more secure future.”

An Interview with Steve Rowley, York, Maine

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Alpaca Farm York Maine goes Solar

ReVision solar installer Seth Kiernan takes a look at an unusual group of gawkers as solar goes in for the Blueberry Hill alpaca farm

Steve Rowley owns Blueberry Fields Alpaca Farm with his wife Hope in York, Maine. Steve loves the ocean about as much as he does alpacas, and we caught up with him to talk about how his love of the ocean was linked to his household’s investments in solar energy.

REVISION: Why Did You Go Solar?

STEVE: Growing up my favorite TV shows were Sea Hunt and The Under Seas Adventures of Jacques Cousteau. At the age of 15 I received my SCUBA certificate and quickly learned that the beautiful beaches above water, were littered with trash on the seabed just out of sight (and still are). I have studied marine biology and ocean engineering and quickly learned that the oceans are not as big as we thought. Global changes are now measurable. The solid trash problem I saw as a kid was replaced with the ones you can not see. Now when I look at the beach I see global warming, ocean acidification, rising sea levels and warm water marine organisms moving north as water temperatures increase. We know burning fossil fuels are to blame and so my wife and I are doing what we can to stop using them.

REVISION: How Did You Choose ReVision Energy?

STEVE: My wife and I have been heating with wood pellets since 2000. We’ve reduced our energy as much as reasonable, insulated, replaced old windows and doors, and purchased a hybrid car. The next logical step was to generate our own power. We’re not in a good location for wind, and our house was not right for solar hot water, but we thought that maybe with the decline in prices, solar electricity could work. I went to the Revision Energy website and used their solar PV calculator. When I plugged in our numbers, I was stunned – the price was way too low! I did it again and got the same answer. I checked my units and sure enough everything checked out – solar did indeed cost much less than I thought it would. I had to make the call.

REVISION: What Was the Process Like?

STEVE: I worked with Nate Bowie, he worked up numbers using our old electricity bills, did a site survey and produced a proposal. I can’t say enough about how nice and informative Nate and the entire Revision Energy employees were to me. The installation team – Matt, Seth and Ted – worked on the roof on the coldest day in February without a single complaint. The installation went so well that my neighbor directly across the street didn’t know they were already up.

REVISION: What Do You Like Best Now that It’s Been Installed?

STEVE: If I have one complaint about the system, is that it just quietly sits there – I was expecting a bunch of randomly flashing LEDs that make it look like the space age equipment I know it is! (laughs)

Seriously, though, I am impressed that everything is working just as we calculated. The advances in solar photovoltaics are truly amazing and costs are going down. When people ask me about solar, I say – “Don’t listen to the old myths, do your own research, and I hope you come up with the same conclusion we did.”

NHSPCA’s solar panels and wood pellet energy conversion raises efficiency, saves money

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

ReVision Energy's Dan Clapp

Since they went green in 2012, the oldest SPCA in the state has more money to spend on food and needed care for the animals awaiting their forever homes at the Portsmouth Avenue location. The facilities used to operate on oil-based heat and hot water, which cost $55,000 for the 2009-10 heating season. To reduce energy usage and cost, the SPCA began learning about becoming more energy efficient.

For Dennison, who had a third wood pellet silo placed on the property for the cats, who use wood pellets in their litter boxes, it is about the environment but it is more about the animals.

“It’s all about spending our donor dollars in a way that we are being good stewards,” Dennison said. “When we save money we have more food to go into the mouths of dogs and cats and the other animals.”

Full article available here:

Solar Home Tour Gives Glimpse of History-Technology Blend

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014


A 116-year-old house may seem like an odd fit for cutting-edge energy innovations, but a Munjoy Hill couple found a way to blend history and energy efficiency.

In February 2011 the couple purchased the home, which is equipped with solar panels on the roof — the only external indication of anything different about the residence.

Baston, who works with Revision Energy, a renewable energy contracting company in Portland, said the two-unit townhouse brought challenges and opportunities. In February 2011 the couple purchased the home, which is equipped with solar panels on the roof — the only external indication of anything different about the residence. Baston, who works with Revision Energy, a renewable energy contracting company in Portland, said the two-unit townhouse brought challenges and opportunities.

The second unit was “gutted” when they bought it, “so it was a good opportunity to do a lot of insulation and install a whole new heating system.” The couple invested in a solar hot water system for both units, and a small solar electrical system. A new high-efficiency gas boiler runs on natural gas, and they use wood heat in the main unit, where they live. The other unit is a rental.

For full article, click here:

Combo of Solar and Wind Give Greene Homeowner Energy Independence

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014
Greene ME Solar power suniva array

The split-axis solar array for Jim Weston in Greene, ME. Uses all-black American made Suniva solar modules

After an initial horror story with an early wind turbine, Jim Weston of Greene has settled on the perfect renewable combination: a new generation Pika Energy wind turbine and a solar electric array installed by ReVision Energy.

Jim first installed his Raum turbine in the mid-2000s, when “wind was hot” in Maine. Unfortunately, the Raum turbine rarely lived up to advertised production figures and in 2012, the turbine failed completely. By that time both the original installer and Raum Energy were out of business, and Jim was left wondering what to do with a 100 foot tower installed on his wide-open property in Greene – an excellent place to capture wind, if the right technology was employed.

ReVision Energy has heard similar stories from other owners of small scale wind turbines, and so when we met Jim at the Common Ground Fair in 2012 we understood his skepticism that solar would work as advertised. However, in the years since Jim had last looked at solar, costs had dropped by more than 50%, and no longer required batteries, making solar a much more cost-effective investment than it had been in years past.

ReVision Energy sent our seasoned solar design expert Will Kessler to evaluate Jim’s home, which had ample shade-free area on his roof, but a tricky configuration because part of the roof faced southeast and other part southwest. Kessler designed a split-array, with modules on both parts of Jim’s roof. The system utilizes Enphase microinverters so that performance would remain at peak capacity despite the differences in angle and azimuth between the two arrays.

Since the installation, Jim has reported that the solar array has performed “just as promised” and had almost an entire year without electric bills, only exhausting his solar credits during the challenging solar month of December, 2013.

A Local Company Revives Wind

Pika Wind Turbine in Greene, MaineWhile happy with his solar array, Jim wanted to do something with his 100 foot tower and thought that the wind resource blowing across his property might still be the right way. When Jim started looking into wind again, he found that a Westbrook-based startup, Pika Energy, was re-inventing the small wind turbine market with a new generation of turbines that addressed shortcomings of the older technology.

Pika Energy, led by co-founders Ben Polito and Joshua Kaufman, recently moved into a 4,300 sq. ft. manufacturing facility in Westbrook where the 10-person-and-growing company is transitioning from an R&D operation into a scale manufacturer of leading-edge wind technology. In addition to innovations with their T701 Wind Turbine, Pika also has a unique inverter product which allows a home to have a ‘micro grid’ featuring both solar and wind production on the same system. The system is accessible via smartphone and web portal and offers a robust amount of technical data for both the homeowner (for education) and Pika’s engineers (for troubleshooting). While focused on growing its manufacturing operation in Maine, Pika is building a national network of trained dealers to sell and install Pika wind-solar hybrid systems.

Pika’s T701 turbine has several advantages over prior units, including better overheat protection, more robust stopping mechanisms, and a vastly superior alternator which is built by hand in their state-of-the-art facility. The turbines are subjected to strenuous performance tests where they are subject to extreme heat, cold, and wind pressure to ensure that they perform as expected in adverse weather and over time.

Jim commissioned Pika to install one of their turbines at his property, which was excellent fit due to proper siting of the existing tower. Even advanced technology will fail when not installed in the correct place, and wind turbines work best when installed on a tower at least 30′ higher than surrounding objects with open space to the prevailing direction of the wind.

Jim reports that the Pika team worked smoothly in the installation of the turbine, and so far he is impressed with its performance compared to his older turbine. “Though the old one was rated at a higher output, I think the Pika turbine will provide much more actual electricity,” he says, “Plus it’s a lot quieter. It’s less than 30 feet from our home and we can hardly hear it.”

Even more importantly, the combination of solar and wind finally allows Jim to have the renewable energy synergy he’s dreamed of since retirement. “I’m really pleased with where we are now,” he says, “The byproduct of not having oil under our soil is war. The wind and the sun – we have plenty of these and they are in abundant supply. It makes me feel a lot better about my impact on the planet.”

Take Virtual Tour of Pika’s Wind Turbine Manufacturing Plant in Maine

Manufacturing Innovation at Pika Energy from Pika Energy.

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