Norwich Solar announced it has received a Certificate of Public Good (CPG) from the Vermont Public Utility Commission for a 500-kWAC solar array in Barnet, Vermont. The ground-mounted system will generate enough renewable clean energy to power approximately 135 homes per year, and offset the carbon emission equivalent of almost 150 cars per year.
Milarepa Center, located off Route 5 in Barnet, will host the array. Milarepa Center is a Tibetan Buddhist retreat center named for an 11th century yogi famed for attaining enlightenment in a single lifetime. The center, an affiliate of the international organization the FPMT, hosts both public and private retreats and was founded in 1981 by students of Lama Thubten Yeshe and of Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Barnet Selectboard, Planning Commission and the Northeast Vermont Development Association, the regional planning commission, all granted “preferred siting” for the location.
Martha Staskus, Chief Development Officer for Norwich Solar said, “We’re looking forward to moving this project forward in collaboration with Milarepa Center. They’ve been an enthusiastic supporter from the start and we’re glad to be seen as a trusted partner.”
Dawn Holtz is the director of the Milarepa Center. She recognized the potential for solar to be a good use of the open field adjacent to the existing electrical transmission corridor on the property.
Holtz stated, “As a donation-based non-profit, hosting the solar array will help the Center with meeting its financial goals for the next 25 years, and we’ll continue to have open meadows/land for our use.”
She also adds that “the Center’s unanimous approval by its board members demonstrates the center’s strong commitment to sustainable operations and is an example of the Buddhist practice of ‘bodhichitta’ because of the good will that will spread through renewable solar energy generation for the outside community.”
Norwich Solar develops several different types of commercial solar projects including on-site solar for businesses or municipalities, as well as community solar projects like this one in Barnet. The net metering credits generated from community solar arrays are allocated to a variety of Vermont customers. This project has allocated a mix of small businesses, mostly agricultural producers, through Norwich Solar’s Small Business Community Solar Alliance. The program is open to any Vermont business with Green Mountain Power electric bills in excess of $10,000 a year. By participating in Community Solar projects like this, Vermont business owners can save money on their energy costs while contributing to a more vibrant local economy.
The project has several more milestones to complete before physical work is expected to begin next spring, including permitting, final design and procurement.
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