Courtesy of Aegis Renewable Energy – Waitsfield, VT
Member-owners of the Boardman Hill Solar farm gather for its official opening.
WEST RUTLAND – On Sunday, Oct. 25, the member-owners of the 150 kW Boardman Hill Solar Farm held a ribbon cutting and Renewable Energy Credit (“REC”) retirement party, officially naming the solar farm a “Vermont Grown, Vermont Green” project. Designed, installed, and commissioned by Aegis Renewable Energy beginning in late 2014, the Boardman Hill Solar Farm is the first community solar array in Vermont that fulfills the “Vermont Grown, Vermont Green” mission: complete member-ownership, democratic management of ongoing operations, and retirement of the RECs generated by the solar farm.
The Boardman Hill Solar Farm stands out from other projects that are marketed as community solar farms, as the entire Boardman Hill Solar Farm is owned by the 30 Vermont families and small businesses who purchased shares in the project. As a result of this direct ownership structure, each Boardman Hill member-owner receives all of the economic benefits of his or her share of the project. These benefits, which are often retained by third-party owners and community solar financiers, include a 30 percent investment tax credit and net metering credits valued at approximately 125 percent of retail electrical rates.
Furthermore, the Boardman Hill Solar Farm member-owners also keep the RECs generated by the project. Retiring the RECS is necessary for solar farms to produce truly green renewable energy, and many community solar farmers may not realize that the solar panels that they are buying or leasing from developers are not true sources of renewable energy because the solar farm is selling its RECs to utilities or investors outside of Vermont.
What this amounts to is a number of solar farms that are located in Vermont, subsidized by Vermont ratepayers, and sold to customers in Vermont, but that are not helping the state make its renewable energy goals. While many community solar developers claim that selling the RECs is necessary for the project to be cost-effective, the “Vermont Green” Boardman Hill Solar Farm member-owners have shown the rest of the solar community that this is not the case.
Overall, the Boardman Hill Community Solar Farm stands out from the crowd of solar developments popping up throughout the state. The Boardman Hill Solar Farm member-owners have created a community solar project in Vermont that returns all of the value that it generates to the local community and environment, making their solar farm truly “Vermont Grown, Vermont Green.”