Inter-Lakes School District saves big bucks with renewable energy

By ROGER AMSDEN, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN
MEREDITH — The Inter-Lakes School District will showcase its renewable energy projects, including one of the largest solar energy arrays of its kind at any school in New Hampshire, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a tour Wednesday, Dec. 14, starting at 12:30 p.m. at Inter-Lakes High School.
Inter-Lakes School Board Chairman Richard Hanson said that a series of renewable energy projects have transformed the district into one of the most energy-diverse school districts in New Hampshire. One of the major improvements is a 345.6-kilowatt, ground-mounted solar electric array, which is located near the high school football field.
The grid-tied array consists of 960 solar panels and generates 100 percent of the electricity used at the high school, producing approximately 401.6 megawatt hours of electricity per year. It was put in service this fall.
Excess electricity generated by the array is fed back to the grid following New Hampshire Electric Cooperative's program for member-installed net metered generation. The array is the largest to date in the NHEC service territory.
A wood pellet boiler system has also been installed, according to Hanson, adding that the district has been working for about 10 years with Honeywell Energy Service to overhaul its energy infrastructure.
Last year, in March, voters approved entering into a 15-year, $6,184,289 agreement with Honeywell for energy improvements. Yearly payments are $437,737.
"It' s self-funding. We pay for it the money we're saving on energy costs," said Hanson, who pointed out that the school district was honored in June by the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partners for the first phase of the project, which has seen the school district save 379,141 kilowatt hours and about $170,000 a year.
"There will be a lot more savings coming from Phase II," said Hanson.
He said that Phase I improvements focused on the district's buildings – weatherization, lighting upgrades, replacement of inefficient and failing HVAC systems and installation of building controls. The $2.3 million improvements in Phase I were funded by grants and the energy savings generated by efficiency improvements. The improvements reduce oil consumption by approximately 50 percent (48,000 gallons per year), electric consumption by approximately 38 percent (700,456 kilowatt hours per year) and set the stage for Phase II improvements, which are focused on the installation of sustainable technologies and are expected to be completed by the end of this year.
Phase II projects include installation of wood pellet boiler systems, installation of grid-tied solar electric systems, installation of a solar hot water system, removal and replacement of all existing windows and exterior doors and replacement of interior and exterior lights with LED lamps
Hanson said that when Phase II work is completed, the district will have reduced its oil consumption to near zero and reduced energy costs by 40 percent. He says the project self-funded more than $4.7 million of capital improvements without increasing the current budget.
ReVision Energy installed the giant solar array and also installed solar energy systems at two other sites in the school district:
• A 17.1-kilowatt solar electric array was installed this year on the roof of Sandwich Central School in Center Sandwich. The two 30-panel arrays are expected to produce 20.25 megawatt hours of solar power each year.
• A solar hot water system was installed last year on the roof of Inter-Lakes Elementary School in Meredith. The eight solar hot water collectors, which can heat 350 gallons of hot water per day, offset approximately 240,000 BTUs per day or an average of 78,000,000 BTUs per year.

12-12 Inter-Lakes HS Array.JPG credit- ReVision Energy

The solar array at Inter-Lakes High School (Courtesy photo)

12-12 solar thermal panels.jpg credit- Seth Wheeler NHEC

Solar thermal panels sit atop Inter-Lakes Elementary School. (Courtesy photo)

12-12 living classroom.jpg credit- Seth Wheeler NHEC

The living classroom at the Inter-Lakes Elementary School. (Courtesy photo)

12-12 Inter-Lakes Sandwich Center School Array1.jpg credit- ReVision Energy

Solar panels at the Sandwich Central School. (Courtesy photo)

12-12 Inter-Lakes Sandwich Central School Array2.jpg credit- ReVision Energy

Solar panels at the Sandwich Central School. (Courtesy photo)

12-12 I-L pellet silo.jpg credit- Seth Wheeler NHEC

This silo stores wood pellets at Inter-Lakes High School. (Courtesy photo)