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Tupelo Music Hall going 100 percent solar

Union Leader Correspondent

September 24. 2018 10:38PM
Crews are finishing work to install 313 panels on the roof of Tupelo Music Hall in Derry. (COURTESY)

DERRY — Tupelo Music Hall is set to become the only solar-powered music venue in New Hampshire, and possibly New England, as a new roof installation promises to supply the facility's energy needs year-round.

When owner Scott Hayward gutted and renovated the new 20,000-square-feet venue at 10 A St., he spent $1.8 million.

Hayward said part of that expense was to make sure the 700-seat facility was as energy efficient as it could be, with LED lighting and efficient kitchen appliances.

Now, he’s spending $220,000 to install a 100-foot array with 313 solar panels on the roof. Enterprise Bank is financing part of the project.

It will take about six to seven years to pay off the loan, Hayward said. In the meantime, the monthly payments will be only slightly less each month than the normal electricity bill.

“What I’m paying out of pocket is about the same,” Hayward said.

ReVision Energy is due to complete the installation of the project in early October, making it a roughly five-week-long process.

Daniel Weeks with ReVision said the array will produce 114,000 kilowatt hours of energy per year, which is enough to meet all of the facility’s energy demands.

Some parts of the year will produce a surplus of energy that can be sold back into the grid, and other parts will require the company buy power from Eversource Energy, Hayward said.

But it evens out at the end of the year, he said.

Weeks said they checked a database managed by the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission and couldn’t find any other music venues in the state that are solar powered. And a search of solar-powered music venues in other New England states yielded no immediate results.

Weeks said he’s aware of solar-powered music venues in New York and California.

The timeline for Hayward’s decision to buy the solar panels was pushed up after the Trump administration enacted new tariffs on solar cell imports.

Hayward finalized his contract in March just before prices went up, Weeks said.

Hayward said he wanted to make the business solar powered not just to save money but to create a smaller carbon footprint and be more environmentally friendly. He said it’s just an extension of the same ethos that ensures the company only uses biodegradable plastic cups.

As far as being able to market the business as the only solar-powered venue in the area? That’s just an added bonus, Hayward said.

“There’s clearly no downside,” he said. “It definitely backs up the brand.”

Hayward said he hopes other businesses follow his example. He said the biggest barrier is usually that other business owners don’t understand the benefits.

Right now, Hayward said one of the biggest benefits is a federal tax break. And he said New Hampshire can do better with its solar net metering laws, which set limits on how much energy can be sold back into the grid by independent producers.

“New Hampshire is not as solar friendly as, say, Massachusetts is,” Hayward said.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be scheduled in mid-October.

Business Environment General News Derry East Derry

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