4-H Learning Center at Bryant Pond to Demonstrate Solar Electric Technology
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Thanks to a grant from Efficiency Maine, the new year-round lodge at UMaine’s 4-H Learning Center will generate virtually all of its electricity by harnessing sunshine.
For over 50 years the University of Maine 4-H Camp & Learning Center at Bryant Pond (formerly the Maine Conservation School) has strengthened children’s relationship to the natural world with a combination of inspired outdoor fun, practical woods-wise skills, and “hands-on” conservation education. So when a grant became available to fund solar projects for the purposes of demonstrating PV technology to the public, the location seemed like a perfect fit.
The new 10.3kw grid-tied system will generate about 14,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, offsetting about 18,200 pounds of CO2 emissions from regional fossil fuel power plants. Equally important, it will be used as a learning tool for students who will use the facility year-round. Soon the solar array will feature web-based performance monitoring, interpretive signs, and a lobby computer display showing how much electricity the panels are generating at any given time (Maine Community Foundation has helped with the latter).
The project was showcased in the Lewiston Sun Journal:
The center will have a dining hall and a commercial-style kitchen and will hold 36 people… The lodge, which is still under construction, will incorporate as many “green” features as possible, including the solar panels and recycled-newspaper insulation throughout the building, said program Director Ryder Scott.
“Whenever possible, we’ve used local materials for construction of the entire building, within reason,” he said.
Eighty percent of the project cost is being funded through a $50,000 renewable resource grant from the Maine Public Utilities Commission. The remainder of the money was acquired through fundraising. The PUC grant, which is administered through Efficiency Maine, supports projects that use renewable energy technologies, specifically photovoltaic. The grants are funded by ratepayers who opt to support the program.
It’s a real honor to work on projects like these that help bring solar to the attention of the next generation. We look forward to being part of decades of learning!