New England Clean Energy has completed the installation of a 68 kW, 200-panel solar energy system at nonprofit environmental education center Nature’s Classroom, marking the fifth project the two organizations have collaborated on at the center’s location in Charlton, Mass.
Sited at the center’s Pond Side campus, the new ground-mounted system will supply approximately 60% of that facility’s electricity. The system is expected to be turned on in April after utility approvals are received.
“At Nature’s Classroom, we practice what we teach. Hundreds of students and teachers visit our Charlton campus every year to learn about science and the environment in an integrated curriculum. It’s important that we also integrate educational messages into our actual operations. Using non-polluting renewable energy makes our messages carry more weight as far as I’m concerned. Based on the positive comments we get from educators and students, I’d say they agree,” says Dr. John Santos, director of Nature’s Classroom.
Nature’s Classroom preciously had five solar energy systems totaling 153 kW of capacity, plus a 100 kW wind turbine, at its main campus in Charlton. New England Clean Energy installed four of the solar systems, totaling 144 kW, and the wind turbine. About 94% of the electricity for the main campus comes from renewable energy sources, saving the nonprofit about $2,800 per year. Savings will jump after Nature’s Classroom pays off the leases on several of the systems.
Nature’s Classroom financed 100% of the cost of the new solar system with a 15-year power purchase agreement from Technology Credit Corp. Nature’s Classroom keeps the rights to sell the solar renewable energy certificates, allowing it to generate new income.
Nature’s Classroom’s Charlton location has two conference centers, dormitories for 300 people, indoor classrooms, meeting rooms, a dining hall, gymnasium, and more than 500 acres of woodlands, wetlands, streams and fields.