Acorn Energy Solar 2 (AES2)
A Community-Owned Solar Project in Shoreham, VT
For the past few years, we have been working on a second Community-Owned Solar project (as a follow-up to our first 150-kilowatt project located behind the Middlebury Police Station, Acorn Energy Solar One, which began operation in December 2011). The second project, Acorn Energy Solar 2 (AES2), is a proposed 150 kW solar array occupying just over one acre of land at 869 Watch Point Road in Shoreham, VT. Consisting of 612 340-Watt solar panels, the group net metered project is expected to generate about 249,000 kW annually, enough electricity to power about 30 to 40 homes.
The Energy Co-op originally filed for a Certificate of Public Good (CPG) for the project in November of 2015, but the application, along with applications for dozens of projects around the state by other developers, encountered delays due to the fact that Green Mountain Power had reached its statutory 15 percent renewables cap. Most of these “above the cap” applications, including AES2’s, were placed on a waiting list.
In June of 2016, after a protracted regulatory process, the AES2 application was eventually “dismissed without prejudice,” meaning that the Energy Co-op could resubmit it at a later date under a new set of rules and regulations, PUC Rule 5.100 for net metered projects, which went into effect on July 1, 2017. While this new rule made the site location and CPG application process more involved, time-consuming, and expensive, it offered the opportunity to proceed with plans for AES2 on the Shoreham site.
Our Second Application
The project had also received the support of the Shoreham Planning Commission, the Shoreham Selectboard, and the Addison County Regional Planning Commission. Consequently, the Energy Co-op resubmitted its CPB application to the Vermont Public Utilities Commission (formerly the PSB) on August 15, 2017.
We have secured funding for nearly half of the project costs from Co-operative Insurance Companies of Middlebury. We also received approval from the Vermont Department of Financial Regulations that allowed us to use the Vermont Small Business Offering Exemption (VSBOE) to market the project to local investors (the B investors) who will provide the remainder of the investment needed, and receive the project’s energy credits on their Green Mountain Power bills, and ultimately take ownership of the project.
We have an agreement with the landowner on the site; and have been working with the design-build contractor, Aegis Renewable Energy of Waitsfield, to apply for regulatory approval to build the project. We also have received letters of support from the Shoreham Planning Commission and select board, as well as the Addison County Regional Planning Commission. Under the new rule 5.100, those letters of support helped us gain “preferred location” status for the project, which is essential for our receiving the CPG.
After we filed our Petition with the PUC, the landowners who own the undeveloped hill to the south of the AES2 site indicated that they opposed our project. This was the first time that we were aware of their opposition. Several other owners of undeveloped adjacent parcels of land later joined in this opposition. This triggered a lengthy and complicated legal and regulatory process. The project opponents asked the PUC for, and were eventually granted, a technical hearing.
More than a year after we filed for the CPG, and after a lot of additional time-consuming and expensive legal process, the technical hearing finally took place on September 7, 2018 before a Hearing Officer of the Commission in Montpelier. On May 7, 2019, nearly seven months later, we finally received a Proposed Decision from the Hearing Officer. That decision was very favorable, but there was yet another delay while we awaited a Final Decision on our application from the full commission.
The Final Decision
Finally, on July 26, 2019, after a total of 710 days of regulatory and approval process, we received a Final Order and the CPG from the full commission for our community solar project in Shoreham! The full commission adopted the Hearing Officer's proposal for decision in almost every respect.
With our CPG in hand, we had the financial closing with all the project investors on Friday, August 23, and site work began that same week with the removal of four large but diseased trees. The fire wood from those trees was donated to the Ripton Energy Assistance Program (REAP), sponsored by HOPE of Addison County.
In November, site grading and driveway construction were completed, and the solar panels and racking were delivered and stored on site. Hole drilling for the racking posts, originally scheduled for December, did not begin until early January, 2020, causing the project completion date to slip. However, construction is now fully underway, and we hope for completion in February, 2020.
We look forward to completing this exciting local community venture, and we thank everyone for their ongoing patience and support.
Additional information about this community-owned solar project in Shoreham, VT is available by contacting us at email@example.com.
Acorn Energy Solar One (AESO)
After more than a year of hard work, Acorn Energy Solar One (AESO) the solar array behind the Police Station on Lucius Shaw Lane in Middlebury, was commissioned and began feeding local energy into the grid beginning in December 2011.
Acorn Energy Solar One, LLC is the company we created to own and operate the 150 kW photovoltaic solar array. The project is a collaboration between the Acorn Energy Co-op, Co-operative Insurance Companies of Middlebury, and the Town of Middlebury.
All necessary permits were received and financing was completed in late October, 2011. Construction began in mid November and was completed in late December. An experienced contractor, Alteris Renewables, constructed AESO.
Real-time Production Display
To see real-time electricity generation statistics for AESO, click here.
We reserved one-third of the total system output for a limited number of Acorn Energy Co-op members. In order to participate, each subscriber paid a membership fee of $2,000 which draws interest at 2% paid annually. This qualified the subscriber to purchase a 2% share of the array's electrical output from CVPS (now GMP) and receive a two cent per kWh rebate credited to their account every quarter for 25 years. Starting in year 11, the rebate amount will increase to five cents per kWh and a portion of the membership fee will be repaid each year until the fee is fully repaid. Sixteen AEC members signed up.
Participation was limited to lifetime AEC members.