Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Here comes the Sun

Yarmouth, Mass. - Peter White of Yarmouth is proof that one man can make a difference.

Sixty photovoltaic panels are being installed on the roof of Yarmouth Town Hall this month after White led a grassroots effort to bring the first renewable energy system to a town building on the Cape.

“It’s a small step in the right direction,” said White, adding that Yarmouth is fortunate to have leaders at the town level who are well informed and see the value of solar power.

Through White’s efforts an article was placed on Yarmouth’s Town Meeting warrant last year to appropriate $50,000 toward installation of the photovoltaic modules.

The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative matched the town’s funds through the MTC’s small renewables initiative grant.

White says additional grant money is available through MTC for other businesses and municipalities willing to go green.

“Every town is building new municipal buildings with no solar designs. So we are trying to get the leaders on Cape Cod to move toward solar energy,” he said.

White warns towns that paying for energy isn’t going to get cheaper. “If [town officials] don’t do anything with a 7 percent increase a year in the energy bills for towns and schools, it will double over the next 10 years and triple in 15.”

Installation of Yarmouth’s solar panels began last week and will be completed before the end of the month. SolarWrights, a Rhode Island-based renewable energy provider with offices in Orleans, was awarded the installation project.

The company says the system will offset around 13,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity every year from the town’s electrical bills. The company estimates that with current prices of 20 cents per kwh, that will equal $2,600 in annual savings.

In addition, the solar panels will eliminate 20,620 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year along with reducing the production of nitrous oxides and sulfur dioxide – measures that are equivalent to planting three acres of trees.

Meanwhile, White hasn’t stopped his efforts to bring renewable energy systems to the Cape. “We’re working with Liz Argo [of SolarWrights] and some other town energy committees. We hope to have three or four other towns with warrant articles this year,” White said.

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