A solar array on a newly-constructed regional high school and vocational center generates clean energy as well as educational opportunities for the Rochester, New Hampshire facility. The Monarch School of New England broke ground on the school last year and will celebrate with a public grand opening next month, on Thursday, September 7. Monarch currently operates two campuses in Rochester. The new school replaces a leased location in Gonic.
The day school serves students with significant physical, medical, developmental, behavioral and emotional disabilities. The new facility allows the school to enhance its career and technical education for young adults by providing the necessary equipment and space to educate and train students for a wide variety of work options in the agriculture, hospitality, technology and service sectors.
ReVision Energy installed the 47.4-kilowatt rooftop solar array. The solar energy company owns the system through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), which allows the school to benefit from solar energy with no upfront installation cost. Under the terms of the PPA, the school purchases electricity from ReVision Energy at a negotiated rate. At year seven of the agreement, the school will have the option to purchase the system at a significant discount, enabling the school to generate free solar power for decades to come. If the school purchases the system, projected savings from year seven and beyond will be approximately $7,500 each year.
The array is expected to produce approximately 50,374 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. The clean energy produced by the array is equivalent to offsetting 53,044 pounds of carbon dioxide per year, which is equivalent to the emissions from driving a car 57,664 miles or burning 25,675 pounds of coal.
The array includes 158 solar panels, each rated at 300 watts. The panels are backed by a 25-year warranty and have an expected lifespan of 40 years. The system also includes three inverters, which convert direct current generated by the array into alternating current used by the building. A web-based monitoring platform allows the school to track the array’s performance.
The construction of the school was funded by community support, a generous pool of corporate donors and a loan from the Bank of New Hampshire. Jewett Construction served as the general contractor on the project, which was designed by DeStefano Architects. The 11,860 square foot facility houses a large, multipurpose room, a computer lab, a woodworking/shop area, art and music room, a greenhouse, a kitchen for preparing student lunches and numerous classrooms and administrative offices. The exterior includes cementitious siding, an asphalt shingle roof and multiple cupolas.