First Solar Awning on New England Farm Powers Coolers

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A solar powered awning has been installed on a farmstand to power the cooling unit. There will be a sponsored meeting to see it and learn more on Wed July 26, 2006.

Scott Reed of Riverland Farm in Sunderland, MA is proud of his power awning, the very first Building Integrated Photovoltaic or BIPV system on a farm in New England. On July 26 at 4 pm, Scott will be showing off his new installation to farmers from Massachusetts and nearby states as part of a summer series on Farms and Energy. This event was organized by the University of Massachusetts Extension Service, Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA), and Donald Campbell Associates or DCA Solar.

Besides providing shade and dry shelter from rainstorms, the awning provides power to his farm stand that offsets the electricity his cooler needs. From here on into the future, Riverland Farm can keep the produce cool for its customers at much less cost for electricity. Even as rates go up, such a large share of the farm stand’s needs are met by this system that it provides robust protection from future rate changes.

BIPV adds value to photovoltaic (PV) installations by doing two jobs at once, providing power and making up the roof. Since PV modules are warranted for 25 years or more a BIPV roof is as good or better than current roofing materials in use today.

Don Campbell, president of Donald Campbell Associates, helped get the project of the ground and worked with Scott to obtain needed USDA financing. "Food travels, on average, about 1500 miles to get to the grocery store. With the cost of energy going up like it is for both electricity and fuels," Campbell says, "we need to keep our farms profitable against the day that we cannot afford food from so far away. Providing renewable energy that matches farmers’ needs is a food insurance policy for all of us."

DCA Solar, and Kosmo Solar worked with the farm to design, build and finance the project. DCA Solar worked with Scott to determine the kind of system and size that would best help Riverland Farm and also helped the farm obtain financing from USDA. Kosmo Solar designed and built the power awning with more financing from the Renewable Energy Trust in Westboro, MA.

Says Reed, "Without the financial support of the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust, USDA Rural Development, and Federal and State tax credits, photovoltaic energy is currently too expensive for most farms. At this time that kind of help is vital for farm viability and energy independence."

Kelly Coleman, Program Coordinator at CISA, says that CISA is "thrilled to see local farmers embrace renewable technology for their farms, as Riverland has for this project. Riverland is truly a "Local Hero," demonstrating how local farms can work towards improving their bottom line, while protecting the environment."

There is a fee for attending the meeting at Riverland Farm, Rt 47, Sunderland, MA.

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