Dear Yestermorrow Community;
As many of you who drive by the school on Rt 100 may have noticed, there has been some construction activity in the area in front of the school between the wetland and the driveway. Seeing this several members of the community have raised serious concerns about the pending installation of solar photovoltaic trackers at Yestermorrow hard by a scenic highway. I am writing to describe the relevant details of the project and to explain the background of the decision to proceed with this project.
Last year, Yestermorrow was approached by All Earth Renewables (formerly Earth Turbines) of Williston, VT with a very attractive proposal to install solar trackers at the school. In December of last year after deliberation by the Executive Committee of the Board and discussion of the whole board, the school entered into a five year leasing agreement with All Earth Renewables for the installation of eight 4 kiloWatt solar trackers. Due to the site constraints only 7 will be installed. This is enough capacity at our location to cover 90% of the anticipated annual load of the offices, studio, shop, kitchen and dormitory. Under the terms of this lease Yestermorrow has made a nominal down payment and will pay All Earth for its energy use at its current price fixed for five years. At the end of the term of the lease the school may elect to renew the lease, buy the trackers, or have them removed. The agreement is forecast to be cost neutral for the school assuming that our cost of electricity would not have changed over the five years. This lease was signed earlier this year and All Earth has installed the concrete pilings. The project has received a Certificate of Public Good and approval from the Wetlands Division of ANR. The trackers will be installed this week. Under the terms of the lease, if Yestermorrow does not purchase or renew at the end of five years, All Earth will remove the trackers, foundations, wiring and conduit and return the site to its former state.
The site of the trackers was determined by a committee of the board working with All Earth to maximize the energy production of the trackers on Yestermorrow property. Several of the trackers are located in the wetland buffer, the balance are in the meadow just outside the buffer. None are installed in the wetland.
This decision was taken deliberately with the full awareness of the potential for controversy after careful consideration of the project’s cost benefit and relationship to the school’s mission and values and was based upon the following principles:
1) Yestermorrow must take responsibility for its own energy consumption and production, to the extent practical, and it must do so with conservation and renewable energy, in its own backyard, not someone else’s;
2) The project must conform to all federal, state and local regulations and must not adversely affect the ecological values of the site;
3) The project must be as beautiful as the current technology and site conditions permit.
We recognized that in order to proceed with the project with the resources available, this third principle would have to be compromised. Considering the “long emergency” of peak oil and the crisis of climate change, we elected to make those compromises. In the context of the 30 year history of Yestermorrow and a thirty year minimum future these compromises can be revisited in 5 years.
This is a matter on which reasonable people, with full appreciation of all the elements involved, will and do disagree, so I am challenging the Yestermorrow community – board, staff, instructors and friends, to collaborate to confront this challenge now. We see and understand the current state of the art and we now see and feel the price of its limitations, and we will soon have a laboratory in our back/front yard. To a far greater degree than any other institution I can think of, Yestermorrow has the resources to design and build, reject and design and build again solutions which will meet the full challenge of the three principles I outlined above in concert with its mission.
John “Sucosh” Norton
President, Board of Directors
Yestermorrow Design/Build School
For more on the specs of the AllSun Trackers, click here to download the spec sheet pdf