Going Solar Hurts Local Business

Solar PanelsLYNDONVILLE- People are now being less dependent on utilities for electricity than ever before. While the result of going green is good for the planet, it is reducing the amount of green flowing into local electric companies’ pockets.  However, it is not always about the money, in some cases, it’s all about reliability. 




“We have had to send students home early loosing power,” says Ashley Gray, Principal of the Peacham School. “We’ve had to just kind of survive the last couple hours of the day, get lunches from another school. We don’t have a generator, so power outages have been huge here.” The Peacham School had a solar array installed on the roof of the building this past fall, and besides generating power, its also being used as apart of the curriculum. Not only do they plan on using these solar panels to teach the students about renewable energy, the school is hopeful that this will provide a solution to the pesky power outage debacle. “If we have a power outage, but these batteries have stored up enough energy, then we don’t have to experience the power outage. Which means we won’t lose water, and we can still stay connected in some way” said Gray. 


Back in September, the Saint Johnsbury school partnered up with Norwich Solar Technologies to install a solar array behind the Green Mountain Mall in Saint Johnsbury. Superintendent Dr. Brian Ricca explained that he ”really believe[s] that we have to set an example for our students, and do what we can as adults to take better care of the planet that our students will inherit someday.”  But the inheritance can have a financial downside for the people in-charge of the local power grid.    


For instance, the Lyndonville Electric Department buys most of its power from suppliers for 5 to 9 cents per kilowatt hour. They sell that to customers for about 14 to 15 cents per kWh. But Lyndonville Electric must then buy any power generated by solar and wind, from homes and businesses, at 19 cents per kWh. “It’s death by a thousand paper cuts,” said Bill Humphrey, General Manager of Lyndonville Electric. “There is not a business out there that can stay in business in kind of a long term scenario, with a market like that. It just to me doesn’t make sense. I just don’t like the way they structured it in the State of Vermont. ‘Cause it does make it real difficult for us utilities to stay in business.” 


Humphrey also notes, money which is being paid to larger solar arrays, goes right back to the pockets of parent companies, most of which are out of state. That money is not being reinvested into the local communities, unlike when getting your power from your local power company he says.