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NH Public Utilities Commission Announces 2011 Renewable Energy Grants totaling $1 million

The NH Public Utilities Commission recently awarded five grants to renewable energy projects, totaling one million dollars.  Funded by the State’s Renewable Energy Fund (REF), these grants will help fund a range of renewable energy generation systems in the commercial and industrial sectors.   These projects will generate hundreds of thousands of megawatt-hours (and equivalent) for NH businesses and non-profit institutions over their lifetimes, helping to reduce NH’s dependence on fossil fuels and generating increased amounts of clean, local, and reliable power.

The grants were awarded through a competitive process.  The Commission issued a Request for Proposals in February 2011, and received eighteen applications requesting a total of $6.4 million.   The Commission plans to release a similar RFP in early 2012, the details about which will be available at www.puc.nh.gov

The five 2011 awards are as follows:

Monadnock Paper Mills: The Monadnock Paper Mills, Inc. is awarded funds in the amount of $151,040 to rebuild a dormant hydroelectric generating unit and install flashboards on the dam crest at the Monadnock Station facility in Bennington, NH.  These two investments will serve to increase the total output capacity of the facility by approximately 140 kW, thus displacing this electric load currently being pulled from the distribution and transmission grid and likewise displacing an equivalent of 17,458 gallons of oil per year.  Monadnock Paper Mills, Inc. is a NH paper manufacturer and has been in operation for over 100 years, employing 161 people.  This project will generate cost savings that will allow operating expenses to be available for future core business investments or on-site energy investments.

Spaulding Ave Industrial Complex:  Spaulding Ave Industrial Complex, LLC, is awarded funds in the amount of $165,000 to replace the existing culvert in the tailrace that runs parallel to the Salmon Falls River with four new nine by twelve ft. culverts, thereby increasing the generating capacity of the existing hydroelectric system in Rochester, NH.  Spaulding will utilize this culvert improvement to increase the generator capacity of the Spaulding Pond Hydroelectric generation system’s capacity from 255 kilowatts to 300 kilowatts.  This grant, leveraged with approximately $150,000 of in-kind labor and resources, was critical to the project  because Spaulding will not own the investment and therefore cannot get a traditional loan to complete the project.  The culvert investment will become property of the City of Rochester, who owns the bridge over the tailrace, and who is enthusiastic about working with Spaulding on this renewable energy improvement project.

Greenville Elementary School: The Mascenic Regional School District is awarded funds in the amount of $51,850 to install, own, and operate a wood pellet boiler at the Greenville Elementary School in Greenville, NH.  This grant will enable the Greenville school to move beyond an oil-fired boiler, and install a highly efficient and clean-burning OkoFen Pellematic wood pellet boiler, which will be fueled with pellets sourced from a NH pellet manufacturing plant.  The wood for the pellets will be likewise sourced from nearby NH forests.  The Greenville school is well positioned to benefit from a wood pellet boiler, as it has already undertaken significant investments in improving the building’s insulation and other energy efficiency measures.

Revolution Energy and Favorite Foods: Revolution Energy is awarded funds in the amount of $100,000 to design, develop, build, own, and operate a 140kW solar photovoltaic system on the main office of Favorite Foods, Inc. in Somersworth, NH.  REF funds will be well-leveraged in this project which will utilize the federal Investment Tax Credit, a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) ownership model, private equity, and additional financing from a local NH lending institution. It is estimated that this system will generate approximately 5,355,356 kWh’s over its thirty-five year life and will help sustain and create full and part-time jobs within NH.  The PPA will allow Favorite Foods, a family owned company employing approximately fifty people, to utilize clean on-site energy, while avoiding the significant up-front costs associated with emerging technologies.  Additionally, the solar array and PPA combination provides long-term stable energy production in the face of rising energy costs, which will in turn assist a local business to remain in operation and competitive.

Carbon Harvest Energy: Carbon Harvest is awarded funds in the amount of $500,000 to design, develop, build, own, and operate a 1.6 megawatt landfill gas-to-energy combined heat and power (CHP) plant with heat distribution capabilities at the City of Lebanon Landfill.  The electricity and heat from this system will be sold to nearby heat-using businesses, as well as to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.  This $6.5 million dollar project intends to expand its scope beyond the generation of useful electrical and thermal energy to capture heat and carbon waste products to create a greenhouse and fuel cycle that would produce both food and biofuels.

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