Blog : Highland Hardwoods and Seacoast Energy Team Up for Unique Solar Project

By Craig | Sep 1, 2015 | in

By Michael McCord

When Rick and Wendy Lang of Highland Hardwoods saw their new solar systems go on line at their facility, they watched with a feeling of accomplishment, checking off another sustainable goal for their company.

“We have always appreciated nature’s wonderful resources and tried to be environmentally responsible business owners,” said Rick Lang about the specialized lumber supply company he started in 1986 on Route 125 in Brentwood. “Going solar reinforces our commitment to manage our natural resources, not only for ourselves but for future generations as well.”

Seven months in the making, Anne Holliday, the lumberyard’s CFO of 20 years, working with Highland Hardwoods to expand its sustainability, first conceived the installation project. After researching state grants, rebates, and looking for local solar installers, Holliday chose Jack Bingham of Seacoast Energy in Barrington for the project.

Bingham installed solar panels on the Highland’s two roofs covering large lumber storage areas in April. Bingham and his crew finished installing the last of the 550 panels a few months later.

It was important to Holliday to reduce the company’s dependence on fossil fuels.

“Fossil fuel is running out,” said Holliday, “and we sell a product that must be sustainably harvested. Any way you look at it, green is important.”

The two separate solar systems using Astronergy 225 watt panels and SolarEdge 20 kilowatt inverters went online in July. Lang said the systems run separately and provide electricity for Highland Hardwoods, but will also provide bonus energy for the local community.

“The addition of solar panels allows us to reduce our budget by about $20K annually for electric costs and provides an abundance that we could give to a charitable recipient,” said Holliday.

Bingham was struck when he discovered back in the planning stages of the project, that the system would share the surplus electricity with the community.

“I hadn’t heard of this before. They wanted to donate the excess,” said Bingham, a veteran of many large solar installation projects in Northern New England.

Municipal buildings, such the Town of Brentwood’s safety departments, will be beneficiaries from the excess sale’s proceeds.

Holliday, also the company’s longtime accountant, suggested the overall project because it had become economically feasible – and timely with state rebate and tax credit policies (some of which are in the process of being phased out). The New Hampshire legislature’s passage of the net group metering law a few years ago made it easier for small-scale energy generators to create excess and have options for managing the excess.

When deciding where to give the excess electricity to, Lang said he felt a desire to sell the excessive electricity and donate those proceeds to Brentwood’s fire and police departments. Holliday planned, researched and coordinated where to give the excess energy and donate proceeds to, which includes Brentwood’s fire and police departments. She presented the idea to Lang who agreed with her decision to donate locally.

“We knew we had enough for our own energy needs but we had the capability of adding more (solar panels) than we needed,” Lang explained. “We wanted to see if it would be cost effective and efficient to do more. We would have the option to sell it, donate it or do whatever made sense.”

Holliday estimates the Town of Brentwood could benefit to the tune of between $10,000 and $12,000 a year.

“This has been really cool,” Bingham said. “They have a high-end lumber yard and are really green orientated. They do many things to be environmentally active and this solar project is one more step.”

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