Solar Energy

Gale River Motel Now Powered by Solar Energy - By Glenn Hasek

The Gale River Motel, located in Franconia, N.H., has completed the installation of a photovoltaic roof-top array which will provide energy to satisfy the year-round electrical demand of the property. The 52-panel system has a peak power of 13.8 kW and is expected to produce a yearly total of 15,220 kW.

Green Lodging News

The Gale River Motel, located in Franconia, N.H., has completed the installation of a photovoltaic roof-top array which will provide energy to satisfy the year-round electrical demand of the property. The 52-panel system has a peak power of 13.8 kW and is expected to produce a yearly total of 15,220 kW.

The system will be directly wired into the power grid by means of an AC inverter that will allow electricity to flow to and from the power grid as necessary. During periods when the energy produced exceeds the demand of the motel, power will flow into the grid causing the motel’s electric meter to run in reverse effectively crediting kilowatts to the motel. As demand surpasses production, during cloudy days, or evening hours the electric meter will draw kilowatts from the grid using up any electrical credits that have accrued.  The generation and consumption of electricity has been designed to produce a “net-zero” effect, where over the course of the year, electricity produced will equal the electricity consumed.

The system, costing approximately $40,000, is financed in part through Federal Tax Credits and a New Hampshire C & I rebate funded through the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission Sustainable Energy Division.

“The Gale River Motel has been a leader in the introduction of environmentally thoughtful technology and practices in New Hampshire’s lodging industry for several years,” states Kevin Johnson, owner of the motel. “Several years ago, a solar hot water system was installed that paid for itself in less than two years. An aggressive campaign installing energy efficient doors and windows has helped reduce bottom-line heating and cooling costs throughout the year. The installation of a photovoltaic system, while taking a bit longer to pay off, makes lots of sense from a business perspective.”

Helps to Offset Peak Grid Usage

The system was installed by Renewable Energy Development Associates (REDA) of Portland, Maine. Will Kessler, of REDA, says, “By going solar-powered, the Gale River Motel is shrewdly managing energy costs while reducing their carbon footprint by about 227 tons over the lifetime of the panels. Not only that, but as New Hampshire’s climate warms, and air-conditioning demand increases in the summer months, solar electricity produced at the motel helps to offset peak grid usage, at times when customer need is greatest. We are happy to be doing business with Kevin, and Gale River Motel, as they are the vanguard of clean energy in New Hampshire. Hopefully the future holds possibilities for continued partnerships.”

Presently, tax incentives scheduled to expire at the end of 2016 and recent threats by the New Hampshire legislature to re-direct PUC funding targeted towards solar-powered thermal and electrical projects prompted Johnson to act sooner rather than wait any longer to move forward on the installation of the system.

The New Hampshire legislature is also struggling to renew the state’s policy of net-metering, despite the fact that net-metered solar systems are only 1 to 2 percent compared to total grid load. “By keeping the net metering cap fixed at just 2 percent, the risk is the state’s solar industry becomes stagnant, or stunted,” says Kessler. “Other states in the region have moved their net metering caps up as high as 15 percent, and seen tremendous growth of the solar industry in response.

The system is designed to provide real-time information regarding the production and consumption of electricity through a computer monitoring interface. Johnson will be able to track electrical consumption and production on a minute-by-minute basis.

Go to the Gale River Motel.

This article first appeared on the Green Lodging News website. To sign up to receive the weekly Green Lodging News newsletter, go to www.greenlodgingnews.com. Glenn Hasek can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.



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