ROCs shining light on renewable energies for communities 

Mascoma Meadows, a 50-homeresident-owned community, is the first ROC in New Hampshire to use solar power to generate some of its electricity. 

Photo of Members of the Mascoma Meadows Board of Directors, Vermont Law School and ReVision Energy held a ribbon cutting ceremony for their newly installed solar array.
Members of the Mascoma Meadows Board of Directors, Vermont Law School and ReVision Energy held a ribbon cutting ceremony for their newly installed solar array.

The 384-panel solar array was operational by the end of 2018. The energy produced by the panels will be sold back into the grid and is the pollution-reduction equivalent of taking 17 cars off the road each year. Board Members will use the profit from the array to reduce the lot rent by $22 each month for homeowners in the neighborhood. 

The array will be built on a half-acre of land donated to the co-op by the neighboring Abundant Life Church of God. Construction began in early November. Steel stands were erected to hold the flat and deceivingly heavy panels that face out from the front of the community. 

Its cost is covered by a $168,000 grant from the Renewable Energy Fund managed by the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission, and by an impact investor through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). The array will be installed by Brentwood-based ReVision Energy  

The PPA enables Mascoma Meadows co-op to access the long-term economic and environmental benefits of solar electricity, while providing an opportunity for investors who share their values. After five years, Mascoma Meadows can purchase the array, at a discount, with financing from the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund. 

Photo of workers installing the solar panels for the array at Mascoma Meadows.
Workers install the solar panels for the array.

Mascoma Board President Calvin Goude said he’s excited for Mascoma Meadows to be the first ROC in the state to tackle this project.  

“Manufactured-home communities like ours are perfect places for sustainable-energy projects, and it will make the homes here even more affordable,” he said. “We appreciate the work the Vermont Law School and ROC-NH did to pull this project together and, of course, our neighbors at Abundant Life church for donating the land. We never expected that!” 

Though the first in New Hampshire, other ROCs are starting to use solar to create extra savings for their residents as well. 

Residents at Lakeville Village in Geneseo, N.Y., are working to install a solar field on a piece of land on their property. 

They, too, have received help from their ROC USA Network® affiliate, Pathstone Corporation. This, said Richard Nereau, head of the Solar Committee at Lakeville, has been vital in keeping the project going.  

The 4-megawatt system (about 40 times bigger than the New Hampshire array) will be built on 20 acres by fall 2019. All the power produced by the system will be used in the surrounding area. An estimated 2,500 homes and businesses are expected to benefit from the system, Nereau said. 

RER Energy Group out of Reading, Pa., will lease the land from the cooperative, and cover the entire cost of installation and maintenance of the array.  

Lakeville Estates residents will receive a 10-percent discount on the cost of their electricity and about $17,000 in income will be generated a year from the lease. 

The revenue will be used to fund capital improvement projects, like road paving and creating a community center.  

“It’s guaranteed income and we get to use it to improve the community,” said Board President Anne Radesi. 

The money can also be used to maintain the lot rents for the community, as well as in cases of emergency, said Alice Dunn, Board Treasurer. 

For those interested in undergoing a similar project in their neighborhood, Nereau advised seeing what resources can be leveraged through town, county or state governments.  

Radesi agreed, adding that tax incentives are often available for businesses working with communities to install solar. RER Energy Group is doing just that in order to get reimbursement for some of the costs for installing the array and will also working with the town to leverage a tax incentive program. 

“Within New York state, they have different programs they are promoting for clean energy,” she said. “You have to get a company that’s ready to invest in your area.”