Acorn Energy Solar 3 (AES3)
A Community-Owned Solar Project in Bristol, VT
In early 2020, we were contacted by a member of the Bristol Energy Committee about the possibility of developing a community solar project on the capped former municipal landfill located at 80 Pine Street in Bristol.
After additional discussions and several site visits to the former landfill, we decided that the site was well suited for solar development since it has good southern exposure and can't be seen from any public streets. In addition, this type of "brownfield" site receives favorable treatment from Vermont's energy permitting and approval agencies.
We then met with the Bristol Selectboard on March 30, 2020, and again on April 23 to further explore project feasibility, lease terms and to develop a proposal. Based on the information provided at the April 23rd meeting, the Selectboard subsequently approved a Memorandum of Understanding as well as a lease option agreement for the AES3 project. We then applied for a Certificate of Public Good (CPG) from the Public Utility Commission (PUC). We await a system impact study from Green Mountain Power to move that application forward.
Since this will be our third community solar project in Addison County, we are currently referring to it as Acorn Energy Solar 3 (AES3), although another, more descriptive, name like Bristol Community Solar is possible.
We have been working with Aegis Renewable Energy of Waitsfield (our contractor for AES2 in Shoreham) to develop a plan for the approximately $1.75 million Bristol project. The AES3 design calls for approximately 1,862 solar panels, 405 watts DC each, which will cover a little over three acres of undulating terrain on the 12-acre capped landfill site. At 500 kilowatts AC, AES3 will be considerably larger than our two previous 150 kW AC projects in Middlebury and Shoreham.
What distinguishes this project from most other solar development in the state, is that it’s entirely local in its legal, financial, and ownership structure. It’s designed by Vermonters, for Vermonters, and like AES2 in Shoreham, will ultimately be owned by the local investors who are project participants (individuals, local businesses, churches, and other organizations), and who will benefit from the project's energy production during its service life.
Those investors will receive monthly credits on their Green Mountain Power bills in proportion to their project ownership. This will allow these local investors to play an active part in Vermont’s renewable energy future, and will also provide them with a reliable and stably priced local source of electricity in uncertain times. It also demonstrates how projects like these can be successfully developed with the active partnership among Acorn Energy Co-op, town governments, and local residents and businesses.
Follow these links for information about our previous Community Solar Projects:
Additional information about our community-owned solar projects is also available by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org.