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Nation's First Artist Residency Program Adopts Solar Power

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Photo courtesy The MacDowell Colony/Jonathan Gourlay

PETERBOROUGH, NH (January 28, 2016) - A new half-acre array of solar panels at The MacDowell Colony has begun offsetting 74 percent of the 450-acre property's electrical needs each year. The project is a major move forward for the nation's first artist residency program as it continues efforts to improve efficiency in its buildings and reduce fossil fuel consumption.

The photovoltaic panels, which started producing electricity for MacDowell in January, will supply about 186,000 kWh each year - more than enough for Colony Hall, the Colony's largest structural consumer of power, which houses administrative offices, the kitchen, dining room, laundry, and gathering space for artists. The installation will prevent about 282,300 pounds of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere each year.

"This system is part of a long-term strategy MacDowell has been pursuing since 1992 to renovate studios and common buildings to reduce both energy loss and our dependence on fossil fuels," says MacDowell Resident Director David Macy. "We started talking solar panels on Colony Hall during renovation planning in 2007."

As a charitable nonprofit, the Colony can't access federal incentives to help defray overall costs of such a project, so Board Member Bob Larsen of Concord introduced the Colony to ReVision Energy of Exeter, a solar energy company that offers turnkey installations. ReVision works in tandem with IGS Solar, a commercial and residential solar provider that invests in renewable energy projects for nonprofits. IGS Solar financed, owns, and operates the solar project, and is the beneficiary of federal and state incentives. MacDowell has entered into a 20-year power purchase agreement with IGS Solar.

Coincidentally, construction of the solar array was completed shortly after the signing of the historic Paris climate agreement last month. Macy notes that the Colony is only getting started: "Eastman studio, our most recent renovation effort is an indication of where we'd like to take all of the buildings on the property," he says. During that project, what had been a drafty studio was transformed into an efficient structure by doubling the thickness of its walls and roof for insulation and adding energy efficient windows. The electric heat pump that warms the studio in winter will eventually be drawing electricity produced without fossil fuels.

"From our energy-conserving steps during construction of our new library to on-going studio renovations, we've committed to reducing the Colony's impact on the environment while ensuring its mission to provide ideal working conditions for artists," says Executive Director Cheryl A. Young. "As a leading contemporary arts center, we want our physical plant to be as cutting-edge as the artists who come to work here. The MacDowells would be proud - they liked modernity of the practical kind."

MacDowell's solar array will work on a net-metering basis where excess electricity created on the property will be fed back to the power grid and will result in credits on the Colony's electric bill. Because solar power costs are contracted to increase at a slower rate than public utilities' historic rates, MacDowell will see savings increase as time goes on. "After six years, MacDowell will have the opportunity to purchase the system outright," says Macy, explaining the Colony has a goal to raise the funds for that purchase by 2022.


Composer Edward MacDowell and pianist Marian MacDowell, his wife, founded The MacDowell Colony in 1907 to nurture the arts by offering creative individuals of the highest talent an inspiring environment in which to produce enduring works of the imagination. Each year, MacDowell welcomes more than 275 architects, composers, filmmakers, interdisciplinary artists, theatre artists, visual artists, and writers from across the United States and around the globe. More than 7,000 artists have received Fellowships to work at MacDowell. These artists include Ayad Akhtar, James Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Ellen Driscoll, Louise Erdrich, Osvaldo Golijov, Cathy Park Hong, Dee Rees, and Julia Wolfe. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon is the chairman of MacDowell's board of directors.


IGS Solar, a turn-key commercial and residential solar provider with nearly 25 megawatts under development, provides homes, businesses, and communities with an opportunity to participate in creating a sustainable energy future with no upfront investment. As an affiliate of IGS Energy, IGS Solar is dedicated to delivering innovative solar energy solutions. For more information, call (866) 801-9928 or visit Connect with IGS Solar at