By George Harvey
Jason Cooper Management has another project to report. It is an impressive solar array installed to provide power for the various rental units they manage.
The project is part of an ongoing effort to switch to renewable energy. They have a district heating system connected to five buildings on Elliot Street in Brattleboro, supporting twenty units, including their own offices. The district heating was reported in an article in the August, 2013 issue of Green Energy Times. Another earlier installation was a 10 kW solar array mounted on the roof of an apartment building in Brattleboro. But now, they have moved on to something much larger. There has also been extensive work at increasing building efficiency to reduce energy use.
Their new solar system has a 150 kW capacity. It is mounted on 100 poles, each with six panels. These were installed on a field that is probably too wet for practical agricultural use aside from hay or straw, though it is not a wetland. The land is held on a long-term lease. Electricity is fed into the grid in Putney, and applied against accounts in Brattleboro.
The installation was done by Soveren Solar, of Putney, Vermont. The installation process is surprisingly fast, once it is started, and was completed in a very few weeks.
Output of the solar array is intended to offset utility bills for people and businesses occupying units managed by Jason Cooper Management. This very much reduces business costs, making power costs essentially free, once the array has paid for itself.
Planning for the future, Jason hopes to be able to use electric power, generated from sunlight, to provide heat for building spaces and water systems, and to provide air conditioning in the summer. He is currently preparing for installation of a special system with a heat pump into a house as a test. It will provide the heat, hot water, and air conditioning, powered by electricity provided by photovoltaic panels. It this is successful, it will be adapted for other structures.
This means that ultimately, the PV system will not only reduce grid power demands of the business, but also replace oil and propane with sunshine as the overall power source. Between now and then, there is clearly a lot of work that will be done. It will be interesting to see it all happen.