Nexamp Peak, largest community solar installation in Northeast, powers on

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HANCOCK >> With the flip of a ceremonial switch, Tyler Fairbank on Tuesday signaled the completion of Nexamp Peak, the largest community solar installation in the Northeast.

After more than three years of preparation and three months of construction, the facility is poised to generate 2.3 megawatts of power, 50 percent of which will be used by Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort.

The balance of the power generated will be sold to 115 local subscribers at a 15 percent discount from the residential retail rate.

And when the solar farm is up and running, Jiminy Peak will be nearly entirely powered by renewable energy, according to Fairbank, CEO of the resort.

Fairbank and Zaid Ashai, CEO of Nexamp, celebrated the project's completion with members of the teams that performed the installation, which sits on a hill just a few hundred yards away from the entrance to the resort. Nexamp owns the installation, which was built on land owned by the Fairbank Group, parent company of Jiminy Peak.

"It's been a long road," Fairbank said, noting that the process was complicated because the project's location lies within the service areas of both National Grid and Eversource. So to connect the power to the grid, he said, interconnection agreements had to be established with both companies.

"To get interconnected is a big deal with one utility," Fairbank said, "but with two it's really tough."

The solar farm, which contains 7,500 solar panels over 12 acres, is just the latest in a string of conservation efforts and renewable energy projects that help power the resort. Combined with Zephyr, a 1.5 megawatt wind turbine, and a 75 kilowatt cogeneration unit installed in the resort's hotel, Jiminy Peak will offset about 90 percent of its energy needs from local renewable sources — a nearly unheard-of accomplishment among notoriously energy-thirsty ski resorts.

Fairbank said the resort hopes to close the remaining gap through new energy conservation technology in both snow making and lighting.

"The non-stop effort that started a generation ago with my father (Brain Fairbank) continues here today, and into the future," Fairbank said. "It's important to us that we operate our resort as good neighbors and good stewards of the environment, which is why we've worked so hard to leverage as many renewable energy sources as we can. We were thrilled to partner with Nexamp on both of these fronts to add solar energy into the mix in such a way that the neighboring community can benefit from the facility, too."

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Subscribers, all of them located nearby, bought up all the remaining shares of the project before it was completed. One of them, Howard Kleinbaum, a retiree who owns a condominium adjacent to the resort, was on hand to mark Monday's completion.

He noted that last winter, after National Grid increased its rates, his winter electric bill was $750 per month.

"It was just ridiculous," Kleinbaum said.

Now, with his 15 percent discount, he figured out that he will save about $750 per year.

"A $750 bill puts a real crimp in your budget," Kleinbaum said. "So this is a big help. Plus we'll be using renewable energy."

Final connection to both utilities is expected in the next four weeks, Fairbank said.

Nexamp is a Massachusetts-based company that develops, owns, operates and maintains its own solar projects.

It acquired the development rights for the project from EOS Ventures, a renewable energy company operated by the Fairbank Group that focuses on wind, solar and cogeneration projects.

"This project marks a tremendous milestone for us," Nexamp's Ashai said. "Massachusetts has an opportunity to be a national leader in solar energy, and its residents and businesses are more aware than ever of the potential for clean solar power to lower their utility costs."

Contact Scott Stafford at 413-496-6301.


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