(photo courtesy of UVAC & Alberto Rodriguez)

The UVAC Got (a 500 Kilowatt) Something for Nothing

Submitted 8 months ago
Created by
Anita Hamalainen


A UVAC member recently watched the flat screen display in the Aquatic Center advertising how the non-profit just went solar. "How much did those cost the UVAC?" he marveled at the 2,184 solar panels generating electrical power. The answer: ZERO DOLLARS. It sounds too good to be true, but the Aquatic Center's neighbor, Norwich Solar Technologies, partnered with them to make it true.

The Upper Valley Aquatic Center solar array on Route 5.

Troy McBride, UVAC member and Chief Technology Officer of NST, was thrilled to help one of Hartford's greatest amenities. The UVAC was in a bind: it has a tremendous electricity load, but as a non-profit with no tax liability, it could not claim the 30% tax rebates for going solar. Enter in an outside investor able to take advantage of tax credits and with the capital to purchase the equipment. Pair it with the UVAC, and it's truly a match made in heaven.

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But the story isn't over yet. The Aquatic Center didn't have enough space for 2,184 panels, so NST purchased land on Route 5 for the solar array, preserving it as farmland for years to come. To keep the plants from growing and shading the panels, the sheep of Sunrise Farm do their part to keep the field tidy.

Sunrise Farm sheep work hard to keep the vegetation down under the solar panels.

For those keeping score, there are many winners to this solar story: one, the Aquatic Center and its member for saving $25,000 in electricity in the first year; two, Norwich Solar Technologies; three, the outside investors; four, Sunrise Farm and its sheep; and of course, five, the environment. The solar array at Sunrise Farm will save the carbon emissions of burning 20,000 barrels of oil or 1 million gallons of gasoline.

This kind of collaboration isn't unique to the Upper Valley Aquatic Center and Norwich Solar Technologies. It's a partnership called a Power Purchasing Agreement (PPA). Non-profits, who want to go solar but can't afford it, work with for-profit entities looking to leverage their money by taking advantage of state and federal solar tax credits. Third parties, typically businesses with land, or even empty roofs lease the space for solar panel arrays. Norwich Solar Technologies is proudly at the forefront of creating PPAs in the Upper Valley by linking non-profits, investors, and businesses. It's a great opportunity where we all win. 

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