ISLESBORO — The media and the public are invited to join representatives from the Islesboro Central School, ReVision Energy and the greater Islesboro community at an upcoming solar celebration to be held at the Islesboro Central School, 159 Alumni Drive on Islesboro, on Wednesday, October 9, at 10 a.m.
“This solar project represents a massive step forward for the island community,” said Thomas Tutor, solar designer at ReVision Energy and Islesboro native, in a news release. “It has been an incredible experience to work with the school board, island contractors, students, and teachers to help the island and school that have given me so much.”
For Tutor, who grew up walking to school just up the road from where the solar array is sited, he hopes that students see solar installation as an example of what our shared future can be.
“I hope this project sparks greater career interest for Islesboro Central School graduates in the growing and fulfilling field of clean energy,” he said.
The genesis of the project, a 65.1 kilowatt grid-tied solar electric system, originally began in 2017 with a donation of used solar equipment to create an educational array at the school. Members of the ReVision Energy team volunteered their labor to remove the donated solar panels from their original home and, with a few extra panels added for good measure, re-installed them at the school. The result was a functional 2.5 kilowatt solar array on a work shed that inspired the school community to pursue a more impactful project.
After considerable discussion of location and system sizing with the school’s Facilities Committee, School Board, and engaged community members, the new school project was nearly unanimously approved at a special town meeting in August of 2018, according to ReVision Energy.
The grid-tied solar array, consisting of 176 solar panels each rated at 370 watts and designed to produce more than 80,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually, is paired with four SolarEdge inverters. As a grid-tied system, any electricity produced by the solar array goes back to the grid, where it is then distributed to the school and neighboring households on the island, and the entirety of the value of the kilowatt hours sent back to the grid is then credited against the school’s utility bills.
Earthwork and trenching was conducted by Paul Grindle Excavation, electrical work was completed by Scott Sienkiewicz of Seaside Electrical Service, and Pendleton Yacht Yard provided machinery to move modules around the site during installation.
Funding for the project is part of a Power Purchase Agreement, or PPA, a financial structure that allows a nonprofit to install solar without using their own capital. Instead, an interested nonprofit, municipality or school is paired with a private solar investor who can take advantage of federal tax programs not available to the nonprofit host. The investor, often a values-aligned impact investor, then offers to purchase and build a solar array at the nonprofit’s location and sells the solar power generated from that array to the nonprofit, often at discounted electric rates.
“ICS is proud to be taking advantage of solar voltaic technology,” said Charles Hamm, Head of School at ICS. “The decision to go solar fits in with our continued efforts to shrink our carbon footprint. The solar array will be providing 40% of our electrical needs and provide ample learning opportunities for our students. ReVision took care of many of the details and made the project much easier than I anticipated. We have also appreciated working with ReVision in joint efforts to send supplies to the hurricane-stricken Bahamas. Our school places a priority in the teaching, learning, and practicing of responsible stewardship of our environment. Going with a solar array dovetails nicely with our Sustainability graduation requirement.”
The installation at ICS grows Islesboro’s current solar capacity, which includes a 155 panel array atop the Islesboro Town Office and 127 panels at Pendleton Yacht Yard. The two arrays produce more than 100,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each year and offset 98 tons of carbon annually.
“Over the past few years, Islesboro has made dramatic progress toward a clean energy future thanks to discussions and hard work from a multitude of community members,” said Tutor, “and I’ve been consistently impressed with the passion and curiosity of all parties involved in this project. This level of engagement from all areas, ages, and backgrounds will continue to drive Islesboro toward smarter, cleaner, and safer energy use and production.”
About ReVision Energy:
Founded in Liberty in 2003, ReVision Energy is an employee-owned B-Corporation focusing on the design and installation of renewable energy systems; ReVision provides a full range of engineering, design, installation and equipment services for homes, businesses, municipal buildings and nonprofits. Since its founding, ReVision has installed more than 7,000 systems and now employs 250 workers across Maine and northern New England.