Woodstock net-metering deal underway

  • The town of Woodstock is now getting a break on its electric bill through a net-metering arrangement involving these solar panels atop the RSD Warehouse Services building on Old River Road in White River Junction. photo courtesy Norwich Solar Technologies

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/30/2019 10:28:47 PM
Modified: 7/30/2019 10:28:39 PM

WOODSTOCK — The meter is running, at last, on Woodstock’s latest effort to reduce its carbon footprint and lower its electric bills in the bargain.

And now that the town is powering its municipal and wastewater-treatment buildings through a net-metering agreement with Norwich Solar Technologies, the principals just wish that longtime Town Manager Phil Swanson had lived to see the project come to fruition.

Swanson died on July 17, at age 67, after a long bout with leukemia.

“Phil saw this as a great opportunity for the town to meet its renewable-energy goals,” Kevin Davis, project director of Norwich Solar, said on Tuesday. “He was very forward-looking in trying to get this done. It was just what he and the town were looking for: no capital investment, no ongoing cost, no maintenance.”

Another contractor’s effort to build a 2,000-panel solar array on a 15-acre field in Taftsville ran into so much opposition in 2015 that the town government and renewable-energy advocates started looking for alternatives. Early in 2017, Norwich Solar offered to supply the town’s energy through a solar array it maintains on the 220,000-square-foot roof of RSD Warehouse Services in White River Junction. Norwich Solar’s lease for Woodstock’s share of the array went into effect in December, RSD co-owner Julie Lyford said on Tuesday.

Norwich Solar expects the arrangement to save the town $13,000 on its electric bill in the first year and almost $570,000 over the 25-year contract, and to reduce by 14 million pounds the town’s carbon-dioxide emissions over that quarter-century.

Zachariah Ralph, program coordinator for the nonprofit Sustainable Woodstock, credits Swanson with advocating for an array of energy-saving initiatives in town over the years. They include a letter to the state Public Utilities Commission supporting the Mount Rainbow Community Solar Array at the Rainbow Playschool’s new location at the former Mount Tom School north of the village.

“The town and the village were super-fortunate to have somebody like Phil, in his role, getting involved this way,” said Ralph, a Woodstock native and Vermont state representative living in Hartland. “It’s unfortunate that he’s not here to see all of these things happen.”

Norwich Solar had scheduled a July 1 celebration of Woodstock’s municipal solar project, with U.S. Rep. Peter Welch among the dignitaries, only to cancel after Swanson took a turn for the worse.

“We were not able to have the ribbon-cutting we had planned, ” Norwich Solar marketing director Steve Snyder said, “but the town’s 25 years of renewable energy that he championed may prove to be his most important legacy.”

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com or 603-727-3304.

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