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Ferrisburgh Solar Flipped the Switch!

The Ferrisburgh Solar Farm is up and running!

On Dec. 15th, at the Vergennes Union High School, A “Sunrise  on Solar” gathering was held to celebrate the creation of Vermont’s first 1 Megawatt Solar Project!

The power is on!  As Mr. Pomerleau requested, the first thing he wanted to use the power for, was to light a Christmas Tree – which he indeed did just that – with LED’s!

LED's were used to light this Xmas Tree from the energy made by Vernont's first 1MW Solar Farm, in Ferrisburgh, VT!

Developer Ernie Pomerleay is passionate about this project and says, “Anything we can do to reduce our dependence on foreign oil is good for our state and our country.”

Hopefully this will soon be just one of many more!

Just one day before this celebration, IVEK Corporation from No. Springfield celebrated their project which is the largest privately owned “net-metered” system in VT, at 209 kW! It is expected to meet from 90-100% of their electrical needs!! Truly our state is moving in the right direction with renewable energy.  One day these two projects will just be small potatoes, compared to what we hope they have paved the way for!

To celebrate the milestone that the Ferrisburgh Solar Farm Team made a reality, they hosted a “Sunrise on Solar” event on Wednesday, Dec. 15th at 3:30 pm (invitation only). According to Ferrisburgh Solar Farm Partners Ernie Pomerleau and Brian Waxler, “This project is one more step for Vermont to help lead the way in alternative energy independence, while creating Vermont/US-based jobs.”

State Senator Ginny Lyons and Representative Tony Klein, who were instrumental in helping to put this project together, and they joined in “throwing the switch” that lit up a 16-foot Christmas on the Ferrisburgh Solar site.

The tree is situated in front of the education display, where you can stop to see the whole project in person and learn what is happening and how it all works… A must see site!

Solar energy is an advancing and welcome green technology. In the case of the Ferrisburgh Solar Farm (FSF), energy from the sun is converted into electricity (as opposed to heat.) From here it goes into the power grid through Green Mountain Power’s electrical lines and helps to power Vermont homes and businesses. Sunshine is available to all, clean  – and free!

CLEAN ENERGY & CLEAR BENEFITS

Electricity from the FSF can power about 170 homes per year! Producing the same amount of electricity at a traditional power plant could emit the following air pollutants:

  • 2,250,000 poinds of Carbon Dioxide
  • 12,000 pounds of Sulfur Dioxide
  • 4,ooo pounds of Nitrogen Oxides

How many pounds of emissions come from electricity produced by the FSF? ZERO!

Think Globally, Hire Locally

The creation of Vermont’s first 1-Megawatt PV Solar Farm is a unique, which required the skill of developers, financiers, engineers, attorneys, accountants, landscape architects, excavators, electricians and many more – That means JOBS.

In addition to the hard work of all those Vermonters, the FSF sought and received the support of numerous local educators, environmentalists, policy-makers and politicians, to name but a few – That means COMMUNITY.

It’s Our Choice

The Ferrisburgh Solar Farm is truly groundbreaking and has paved the way for other solar projects. Like being the first to break through the snow and pack a ski trail through the woods, it is a lot of work. But, it feels good and makes it easier for all those who follow.  … And that means – A better FUTURE!

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Following is the article that ran in the November 5th Issue of Green Energy Times, in case you missed it:

Real Estate Developer Goes Solar

Interview by Nancy Rae Mallery

The shape of the PV's unknowingly ended up being like the shape of the State of Vermont!

Pomerleau is arguably among the most respected names in Vermont real estate.  Now, the Pomerleau name is about to become synonymous with green real estate development – Ernie Pomerleau is going solar!
On a small piece of land along the Rte. 7 corridor south of Ferrisberg, Pomerleau has broken ground on the largest solar development in Vermont – just over 1 megawatt of installed capacity!

And Ernie is proud to remind anyone that “looking down on the project, the solar arrays are designed in the shape of the State of Vermont.” But the happenstance of project’s design identity with the Green Mountain State does not stop there.

Pomerleau worked actively to include the participation of Vermont companies in project from foundation to finish (in real estate terms). Leigh Seddon VP of Engineering for Alteris Renewables Inc. designed the project from his studio in Montpelier.
Ernie searched for local suppliers for every aspect of the ground-mounted structure that holds the panels.  All the labor is local.  And the site will feature a visitor center.  Ernie proudly exclaims, “Visitors can look at the panels.  See them, touch them, and learn!”

Although a professional developer, Pomerleau learned a great deal over the many months required to develop a solar project.  He learned about the FIT and SPEED programs, Power Purchase Agreements, energy-related environmental review and . . . yes, about the difficulties of financing solar.

Ernie can cite the project’s energy and financial performance from memory, but that did not help him at the bank. Pomerleau’s initial financing for the project was declined.  But TDBank immediately started working with VEDA and USDA Rural Development. “It was a long, hard process – esp. with FERC and TAX Incentives issues…”

Pomerleau squarely faced the financing challenge. He believes that this challenge  speaks to the core of our nation’s economic security: “Are the economics there?  Perhaps not on pure economics.

Ernie considers the real economics of solar about “jobs” and “energy independence” for Vermont and the nation. “there is one thing we all agree on – that the U.S. needs to get off foreign oil.  We all agree this is good!”

Ernie’s commitment to the economics of solar goes beyond cost and financing.  Pomerleau served as Chair of the Governor’s Commission on Climate Change.  “I do not debate Climate Change.  I don’t have to!” He is setting the example!
Pomerleau utilized the new state feed-in tariff to make the project financially viable.  But even that did not come without a challenge. After receiving news of the award, the State threated to reduce or eliminate project subsidies.
Ernie went into action to preserve the economic viability of this project . . . and the future of solar energy development in Vermont.
The project is scheduled to go live on December 15th. Ernie is excited about a plan to celebrate the success of this project. “When the solar system is switched on, we first plan to light up a christmas tree on the site!”

At this point I asked if he would be using LED’s?  He answered: “Do they make them for christmas trees?”  I said “Yes, and that I use them” He wondered where he could find them.  Hopefully this will be accomplished locally, as well, from a developing company in Randolph, VT.

When you drive by the Ferrisburgh project this winter, with its blue panels reflecting the Vermont sky, yet allow for clear skies at night – think of “Pomerleau the Solar Developer.”  For Ernie’s development efforts remind us all that solar power is clearly tied to the long-term viability of our local economy and energy independence.

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