YES, In My Backyard! Local Solar Power Celebration in Charlotte

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Join Real Goods Solar and the Ten Stones Solar Collective on August 19th for Community Solar Event

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Solar array in the Meadow at the Ten Stones Collective

“YIMBY is a slogan for our times!” says author and founder of 350.org Bill McKibben,“Environmentalists have to say no pretty often, but what a lovely feeling to be able to say Yes, right here, right now."

Over the past year, large solar photovoltaic projects in Charlotte have prompted public outcry and instigated enormous legal bills. But there is one, quiet project that is so positive that the group putting it up is inviting the public to a mini solar YIMBY festival – Yes, In My Backyard! – on August 19th, 3-6 pm, to celebrate. Ben & Jerry’s is donating ice cream for 300 people for the event.

“YIMBY is a slogan for our times!” says author and founder of 350.org Bill McKibben about the Charlotte event. “Environmentalists have to say no pretty often, but what a lovely feeling to be able to say Yes, right here, right now. My home runs on solar energy, and so does my office; this is not impossible or even all that hard. We just need enthusiastic people to make sure it happens!"

The Ten Stones Solar Collective is said to be only the second true community power station in Vermont. The power produced by the 24 kW system is allocated to six meters owned by the members. It is locally owned energy on a small community scale—on a Vermont scale.

The project grew out of the Solar Charlotte program started by VPIRG (Vermont Public Interest Research Group) in collaboration with Alteris Renewables (now Real Goods Solar.) Twelve towns and all of Addison County signed on as Solar Communities, and over the course of the program 277 households installed solar panels on their roofs, including 26 in Charlotte. When Real Goods came to assess the houses at Ten Stones, however, most were not suited for roof systems. If they were going to go solar, they had to find another way. The group settled on a ground mounted system in their large meadow more than 1000 feet to the south of their homes.

The Collective set to work creating legal agreements themselves for their newly-formed LLC. Vermont’s recently-passed group net metering law made the project possible, but the legislation was so new that there were no models to follow. The meetings were “a clown’s trunk of legalese,” said Ed LeClair, executive director of Circus Smirkus and a member of the Collective, “but our small troupe worked diligently to pull together an important project for the community and, ultimately, the environment.”

Working collaboratively on pioneering projects is a tradition at Ten Stones. When the neighborhood was designed in the early 1990s, a constructed wetland was part of the plan. Cattails and bulrushes continue to pre-treat septic material before it is pumped to the common leach fields. Ten Stones has a community garden and chickens, as well as ample forest and meadow, 45 acres of which was granted to the Vermont Land Trust.

Ten Stones’ South Meadow will be the site for the August 19th solar celebration. Since the Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Truck chugs around to anywhere community, Vermont, and renewable energy are celebrated, they will be on hand to scoop free ice cream for event-goers. People can also get a tour of the unique solar system by the chief Real Goods project engineer; watch a slide show of the construction; check out tables of information from VPIRG, 350Vermont, Transition Town Charlotte, and Real Goods Solar; listen to live music by local artists the Beerworth Sisters, Rick Cusick, and Jesse French; and enter a sweepstakes for a free solar system.

Governor Peter Shumlin asserts, “we’ve got to get off fossil fuels as quickly as we know how, to make this planet livable for our children and our grandchildren.”

Within two weeks of going live, the Ten Stones system had already offset a ton of carbon. It is calculated to offset almost 20 tons of carbon every year. “It’s a small start,” said Rebecca Foster, who organized the Ten Stones Solar Collective, “but a fact that makes me want to weep for joy.”

EVENT DETAILS:
All are welcome to attend, open to the public
Sunday, August 19th, 3pm - 6pm
100 Ten Stones Circle, Charlotte, VT

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Karen Stewart

Rebecca Foster
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