Leaders of Associated Grocers of New England on Wednesday unveiled what they described as the largest rooftop solar array in New Hampshire.
The 3,400-panel array atop its centralized distribution facility in Pembroke is expected to generate 1.45 million kilowatt-hours of energy every year, reducing carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to planting 17,000 trees or removing 224 cars from the road annually.
Tom Bradbury, former chairman of the board of Associated Grocers, said at a ribbon-cutting event that future generations depend on projects like this.
“Climate change threatens to create significant impacts on the world that we live in and the world that we know and the world that will be inherited by our children and grandchildren,” he said.
The project, which will add 1% to the state’s total solar capacity, was designed and completed by Revision Energy.
Dan Weeks, vice president for business development for Revision, said the array covers less than half of the 250,000-square-foot roof at the distribution facility.
“The steps we take today and other projects that this will inspire all sorts of green initiatives, not just solar but wind, hydro and the rest, which are the necessary, as the science is clearly telling us, to protect those things that we value the most, in fact the very habitability of the planet,” he said.
“These panels will produce sufficient energy to power this large facility behind us. The church up the way, some of the homes on the street will even be able to benefit from this power under peak conditions.”
He spoke under sunny skies and cool temperatures, optimum conditions for generating solar energy.
“This is a peak solar day in New Hampshire,” he said. “Nice, cool 60-something degrees. That means we’re not losing efficiency from the high temps on the inverters. There is barely a cloud in the sky.”
“From the largest power plant of them all, some 93 million miles away, the biggest nuclear reactor, we are gathering those sunlight rays, we’re creating the electrical current. The silicon in the panels comes from sand on the beach, a rather abundant source.
“We’re creating that DC current, delivering it to the inverters, converting that to alternating current, literally powering the massive building behind us and at certain times of the day even helping to power the local grid. Kind of magical if you ask me.”
Steve Murphy, recently retired chief financial officer for Associated Grocers, said the project cost $2.3 million, but a $600,000 tax credit reduced the cost to $1.7 million.
He said it should pay for itself in energy cost savings in eight to nine years.
“Over the 25-year life of the panels, there will be 100 percent savings in the remaining years and this project will also serve as a buffer on rising energy costs,” Murphy said.