Potts Harbor Lobster is Maine’s First Commercial Wharf to Go Solar
Solar At Work | October 23, 2012 | Posted by Fred Greenhalgh
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Nothing could be more quintessential Maine than the trade of lobstering, but Jim Merryman of Potts Harbor Lobster doesn’t think that means lobstering has to be stuck in the past. The Harpswell native has already made several energy efficiency investments to reduce his costs of operation, and now has gone the next step: adding solar.
We’re going to be the first commercial working waterfront with all of its energy supplied by ‘green’ power,” Merryman said. “As a business owner, I want to take advantage of the technology out there and make this a carbon neutral, clean-energy working waterfront.”
Now 41, Merryman started lobstering when he was 8 years old with a rowing skiff and three traps. He bought Reversing Falls Lobster Wharf three years ago through the Land for Maine’s Future program, a nonprofit organization which helps preserve natural vistas, open space and traditional waterfront. A series of covenants also ensures that the property will remain working waterfront in perpetuity.
Maine lobstermen have had a rough summer. For four months, the cost of everything associated with their industry — diesel fuel, bait, insurance, rope and other essential materials — has continued to increase. But the price they get for the lobsters they catch has gone down.
Lobstermen saw a large number of soft-shell lobsters this year, which sell for a lower rate. “Soft” lobsters have a lower percentage of meat in them, which means they are less valuable to the wholesale wharves that buy them and then resell them to restaurants.
In addition to the increased costs, low demand for the New England delicacy combined to keep prices so low that many lobstermen lost money just by leaving the dock.
So, when Merryman thought about it, the ability to corral at least one business expense — such as the cost of the power needed to light and operate his live tanks, pumps, refrigeration and facilities — seemed like a very good idea.
Full article here, Also see article in The Forecaster
ReVision Energy helped Merryman through the process of designing a system and applying for a rigorous USDA REAP grant. Awarded the grant, and eligible for other rebates including a federal 30% Investment Tax Credit and state rebate of $4,000, Potts Harbor Lobster went forward with the solar project which was commissioned on September 10, 2012.
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The 10kw solar electric array is expected to produce over 13,000 kwhrs of clean, reliable electricity a year. By reducing the amount of electricity made from traditional fossil fuels, Potts Harbor Lobster will help to keep over 20,000 pounds of CO2 from entering into our atmosphere each year, which is the equivalent to 1,020 gal of gasoline or 21 barrels of oil. While the promise of a better bottom line – thanks to eliminated electricity costs – was a big incentive to Merryman, he is also extremely aware of how the choices we make today affect our future tomorrow.
Again, the Times Record: “It’s about making a difference,” [Merryman] said. “There’s no industry in the state that relies on clean water like the lobster industry, and we’re doing our part to ensure clean water for future generations.”
Potts Harbor Lobster has been educating their customers about responsible lobster harvesting and traceability. At the same time, their customers have been educating themselves on sustainability and responsible business practices. Their belief is that a better educated consumer makes pickier decisions, and chooses more responsiblly operated businesses accordingly. And one thing is sure – at Potts Harbor Lobster, the catch is getting greener everyday.
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