By Kendra Gravelle
On Friday, March 12 at 1 p.m., City Market will cut the ribbon in a ceremony marking the official opening of the installation of its new solar panels.
Part of City Market’s mission is sustainability. These solar panels will provide the store with three percent of its energy, said Brent Demers, facilities manager at City Market.
The idea of installing solar panels at City Market had been brought up many times in the past, but because of the cost it hadn’t been a possibility until recently, Demers said.
City Market was one of three recipients in Vermont of a grant for a solar electric system, said Joe Adams, director of sales for groSolar for the state of Vermont.
|City Market chose groSolar to install the panels. (Photo by Susan Bourque)
City Market received $53,900 from the Clean Energy Development Fund, Demers said, and the return of investment had previously been ten years. There is now a payback period of about five years.
“Why wait?” Demers said. “If we were to keep waiting for more incentives, we would have missed out.”
The project started in May 2009, when City Market began to seriously look into getting solar panels. They began to look into different companies to do the installation, and eventually chose groSolar to do the project, Demers said.
GroSolar, a company established in Stratford, has grown to be the fourth largest solar energy solutions provider in the country, Adams said.
Adams was excited to have the opportunity to install solar panels in Chittenden County.
“Since we are a Vermont-based company, it’s nice to get more work in Vermont,” Adams said.
The installation of the panels began at the end beginning of February and took two to three weeks, Demers said.
Some benefits of solar power are that it reduces greenhouse gasses, and it is a renewable resource, said Heather Ellis, sustainability coordinator at St. Michael’s.
Other advantages include a lower dependency on foreign oil and the creation of jobs, Adams said.
“There are all sorts of benefits, financially and environmentally,” Adams said. “It’s really a win, win situation for everyone.”
City Market has been taking other steps toward being more green as well, including installing more energy efficient lights and replacing their paper products with recyclable products, Demers said.
“What we are doing is continually making steps to reduce the amount of energy we’re using,” Demers said.
With the help of groSolar, City Market is holding free “Solar Made Simple” seminars once a month, which aim to explain what a solar system is, how it works, and how simple it is to have installed, Demers said.
“We want to be a model for the community and help people understand that it is possible to use solar power at their own homes,” Demers said. “We’re pushing towards sustainability, and we want to support renewable energy.”
The energy that the solar panels generate will initially be used by City Market, and hopefully will eventually tie in with Burlington Electric’s supply, getting sold directly back into the grid, Demers said.
“If it gets fed back into the grid, then the rest of the community can benefit as well,” Ellis said.
“I think that the community response to the panels will be very positive,” Adams said. “It seems like an overwhelming portion of the population sees the benefits of renewable energy.”
City Market’s installation of solar panels is a sign of hope, Ellis said.
“We want to keep Vermont green,” Ellis said. “Having a co-op like City Market doing this is phenomenal.”