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AMC's Cardigan Mountain Lodge now generating solar power

Union Leader Correspondent

January 26. 2016 10:14PM
A recently-installed solar-electric array outside its Cardigan Lodge in Alexandria will let the Appalachian Mountain Club generate power there while also helping to offset the conservation group's overall carbon footprint. (John Koziol)

ALEXANDRIA — By going solar at its Cardigan Lodge here, the Appalachian Mountain Club said it has moved closer to significantly reducing its overall, organizational carbon footprint.

Known for helping millions of “people of all ages and abilities” to explore the mountains, forests and waters of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, the 140-year old AMC last week said it had completed the installation of 240 solar-electric modules and seven inverters outside the Cardigan Lodge.

The lodge is adjacent to Mount Cardigan State Forest and is located on a 1,200-acre AMC reservation. The lodge offers guests a choice of private rooms with private bath, private bunkrooms with shared bath, and individual and group walk-in tent sites.

The 73.2 kilowatt, ground-mounted solar electric array at the lodge is expected to produce about 87,000 kilowatt hours of solar electricity each year, which, according to the AMC, is equivalent to “offsetting the carbon dioxide emissions from 157 barrels of oil or the carbon sequestered by 15 acres of pine or fir forests.”

On those occasions when the array makes more electricity than needed, excess power will be fed to the utility grid with the AMC receiving a credit. The AMC in a prepared statement said it plans to share a portion of the credit with its Three Mile Island Camp, located on Lake Winnipesaukee, in Meredith, about 30 miles to the east. The AMC said the array was installed by ReVision Energy and is owned and operated by IGS Solar. Under a power-purchase agreement, the AMC can buy “green” solar power from an investor at a lower cost than “brown” electricity from the utility grid.

Paul Cunha, AMC’s vice president of outdoor operations, said the solar array will help the club achieve its goal of reducing its total carbon footprint by 80 percent by 2050. He noted that the solar array at the Cardigan Lodge “is an important step in the effort to reach that goal by replacing carbon-emitting systems with sustainable, renewable energy systems.”

The AMC said its uses its facilities — huts, lodges and sporting camps — as “models for sustainable operations and environmental stewardship,” noting that all of its huts and lodges in the Granite State have been awarded “Environmental Champion” status by the N.H. Lodging and Restaurant Association’s Sustainable Lodging and Restaurant Program.

All of its high-mountain huts in the White Mountains operate off the power grid, said the club, and all feature “alternative energy systems, consisting mainly of solar applications.”

Outdoors Energy Alexandria

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