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Nature's Classroom Adds a Sixth Solar Energy System
New England Clean Energy Installing its Fifth System at the Environmental Education Non-Profit
The system would have been bigger but a state cap on Net Metering for commercial systems made a larger investment uneconomical, according to Dr. John Santos, director of Nature's Classroom.
The new system is a ground-mounted system on the Pond Side campus. It will supply approximately 60 percent of that facility's electricity. The system is expected to be turned on in April after utility approvals are received.
"At Nature's Classroom, we practice what we teach. Hundreds of students and teachers visit our Charlton campus every year to learn about science and the environment in an integrated curriculum. It's important that we also integrate educational messages into our actual operations. Using non-polluting renewable energy makes our messages carry more weight as far as I'm concerned. Based on the positive comments we get from educators and students, I'd say they agree," said Santos.
"Although the Net Metering cap for larger commercial systems persists, the state recently lifted its ban on Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SREC) for commercial and non-profit systems of 25 kW and larger. SRECs are expected to go away in 2018, however. All this means that 2017 should be the 'Year of Solar' for non-profits like Nature's Classroom and any small to mid-sized business looking for a smart, safe investment,"
Nature's Classroom already has five solar energy systems totaling 153 kW of capacity, plus a 100-kW wind turbine, at its main campus in Charlton. New England Clean Energy installed four of the solar systems, totaling 144 kW, and the wind turbine. About 94 percent of the electricity for the main campus comes from renewable energy sources, saving the non-profit organization about $2,800 per year. Savings will jump after Nature's Classroom pays off the leases on several of the systems.
Nature's Classroom financed 100% of the cost of the new solar system with a 15-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) from Technology Credit Corporation (TCC). For 15 years, TCC will own the system and Nature's Classroom will purchase the electricity it produces at a discount compared to utility prices. Nature's Classroom keeps the rights to sell the SRECs, allowing it to generate new income.
Nature's Classroom's Charlton facility has two conference centers, dormitories for 300 people, indoor classrooms, meeting rooms, a dining hall, gymnasium, and more than 500 acres of woodlands, wetlands, streams and fields.
The organization operates programs at 13 sites in New England and New York. Since its creation in 1973, more than 850,000 elementary and middle school students have experienced Nature's Classroom, most for five-day programs emphasizing scientific inquiry and critical thinking. Nature's Classroom has been recognized for excellence by the National Science Teachers Association and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. For more information, visit http://www.naturesclassroom.org or call 800-433-8375.
Hudson, Mass.-based New England Clean Energy designs, engineers and installs solar electric systems for homes and businesses in central, MetroWest and southeastern Massachusetts;
Technology Credit Corporation (TCC) was founded in 1988 in the heart of the Silicon Valley. Since its inception, TCC has financed over $2 billion of technology equipment. In 2007, TCC expanded into financing solar equipment. TCC distinguishes itself by being the only national solar financier for small commercial and non-profit customers with portfolio projects of over 400 projects from Hawaii to Massachusetts.