Solar project will power Foxcroft Academy and RSU 68 campuses
DOVER-FOXCROFT — Nearly 2,000 new solar panels atop the Jim Robinson Field House — the largest rooftop solar project in the state — will provide enough power over the course of a year to meet the electrical needs of both the Foxcroft Academy and RSU 68 campuses.
With the sun shining down on the roof and a crowd of students, staff, and community members gathered nearby behind the west end zone of the Foxcroft Academy football field, a ribbon-cutting was held Thursday for the 1-megawatt Foxcroft Community Solar Project. The initiative is now complete and will soon be fully operational.
“I stand before you today with great pride and excitement as we celebrate a historic occasion, the ribbon-cutting ceremony for our new solar roof project,” Head of School Arnold Shorey said to start the afternoon’s remarks. “This remarkable initiative showcases our commitment to sustainability and a greener future. It is the largest roof system in the state of Maine.”
While planning was underway for the 80,000 square foot Jim Robinson Field House, those involved soon realized the building was ideally situated to harness sunlight from the east and west. The building and grounds committee would come to an agreement with UGE a community solar developer working to make renewable energy accessible and affordable for all, to develop the roof project.
“It took three years to complete the system which accounts for legal and legislative work and we’re now ready to produce renewable energy,” Shorey said, thanking all those who played a role in the project.
“This solar power system will generate clean electricity for Foxcroft Academy and RSU 68 and serve as an educational tool inspiring young minds to explore the limitless possibilities of green technology,” he said. “Our students will now have the opportunity to witness firsthand the workings of solar panels as they harness the sun’s energy and convert it into power.”
Foxcroft Academy Board of Trustees President Ethan Annis, a member of the buildings and grounds committee and 2003 graduate, said the day was another exciting moment in the school’s history. “The entire field house project has been an incredible addition to the Academy and its students,” he said.
Foxcroft Academy Student Council President Kemsley Marsters thanked everyone for attending and said the Foxcroft Community Solar Project is an important step toward a better and brighter future. Marsters said he is honored to be part of the school taking the first step toward clean, renewable energy.
“The key to the success of this project was to find a reliable and experienced partner, we did so, contracting with UGE,” Shorey said in introducing UGE Chief Revenue Officer Tyler Adkins, a 2003 Foxcroft Academy graduate.
“There are 1,950 solar panels on this rooftop here that will produce enough power over the course of the year to power both Foxcroft Academy and RSU 68,” Adkins said.
“The system that we have here today will not only produce clean energy for decades to come, it will also offset fossil fuel energy generation that will produce the equivalent of offsetting 1,000 metric tons of CO2 every year,” he said. “That’s the equivalent of driving 2.5 million miles.”
Adkins said the project will help protect the environment for future generations. “This will also save the schools money over the long-term and will also provide stability to energy rises as they are at all-time prices and volatility,” he said, encouraging those who may be interested to look into the endless opportunities to become part of the clean energy economy.
Foxcroft Academy will also earn annual lease payments from UGE in exchange for use of the rooftop space where the solar project sits.
RSU 68 Superintendent Stacy Shorey said the rooftop solar project will benefit both the environment and the two school unit finances through electric bill savings. “Being an educational institution, we are thrilled to be able to use these panels as a learning tool for students, it certainly feels like a win-win for all of us,” she said.
Shorey said RSU 68 will reap the benefits with lower bills after having had monthly winter bills in excess of $10,000. “It is certainly appreciated by those of us putting the budget together as well as the taxpayers of our communities,” the superintendent said. “Those savings can then be reinvested in our real priority, the students.”
She said the implementation of solar power will be an important educational tool, as having the energy source incorporated into the curriculum can inspire students to pursue careers in renewable energy and environmental science.
“The work that has been done on the solar panels can empower students with knowledge and encourage them to bring to positive change not only within our school community but also in their future endeavors,” Shorey said.
Dover-Foxcroft Town Manager Jack Clukey, who is a Foxcroft Academy trustee and a 1988 graduate, said the Foxcroft Community Solar Project signifies the completion of the field house and it was always a priority for the facility to be sustainable.
“The trustees’ goal was not to just build it, but to make sure it is here for many, many generations,” Clukey said. “The solar project will give us that stability financially along with all the benefits of clean energy and as was said earlier will provide all the electricity for Foxcroft Academy and RSU 68 which will have significant cost savings.”
Clukey said the project speaks to the values of the community because decisions were made not just for the present but the future. He said the community values good stewardship, both financially and for the environment.