Makers Mill Goes Solar

After years of supporting solar and energy efficiency upgrades in other residential and commercial buildings, Makers Mill finally has a solar installation  of its own!  

The next time you’re passing 23 Bay St. in Wolfeboro, take a look up at the south-west roof of Makers Mill where you will see the latest milestone in the renovation progress – an 11.1 kWdc solar system with 18kWh of battery storage.  ReVision Energy started planning this project with Makers Mill in the winter of 2018 when they undertook  an initial solar assessment and evaluation.  Fast-forward three years and their installers are lugging panels across the roof, tying them into one another, and connecting them to the Generac battery system.  The battery system can handle 9k watts continuously drawn for essential loads during grid outages.  This will keep life and safety services online, as well as heat and light for a day or so during a grid outage.  If the sun is shining during the outage, the solar system will recharge. Unlike a generator that requires the use of fossil fuels and regular maintenance, this battery system uses the free power of the sun to recharge with an expected life of more than 15 years.  The battery system is also compatible with a propane generator in the event of an extended power outage that coincides with limited solar exposure. 

Makers Mill’s building design continues the organization’s commitment to fostering a healthy community, economy, and environment. Efficient heating and cooling systems have also been included in the renovations, as well as lots of natural daylight throughout to reduce the need for artificial lighting.  In Phase Two of renovations, as part of the next 5-10 year plan, they intend to integrate best management practices around stormwater mitigation including the use of green roofs, rain gardens, rainwater collection, and permeable paving. 

Makers Mill’s history with solar installation goes back to the early 2010’s when it partnered with Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative (PAREI) to launch a Solar-Raiser program. Like a traditional barn-raising, the Solar-Raiser brought together teams of volunteers and professionals to install solar hot water systems in local homes. In a twist of serendipity, the ReVision Energy team leader on the Makers Mill project is Craig Cadieux who was a volunteer and advisor to the Solar-Raiser projects from those early days.  

A few years after the Solar Raiser program, Makers Mill (then GALA) also participated in the Wolfeboro Energy Committee’s Solarize Wolfeboro campaign. This was an initiative to help residents reduce or eliminate their electric bills, and increase the percentage of energy from the sun going into the Wolfeboro Municipal Electric power grid. 

A driving influence behind the Makers Mill solar installation is the support and vision it shares with the Town of Wolfeboro’s Master Plan to have 50% of the town’s energy come from renewable resources by 2029.  With gas prices climbing and damaging fossil fuel impacts to the planet increasing, the need is more pronounced than ever for communities to focus on ways to provide clean energy solutions and resiliency.

This particular solar system at Makers Mill was made possible by an anonymous donor-advised-fund of NH Charitable Foundation, dedicated specifically to supporting solar on nonprofit-owned buildings in NH. This system will help Makers Mill reduce operational expenses while also allowing the building to reflect the organization’s values and roots around sustainability.  As the various building phases are completed and fundraising goals achieved, additions to the solar array size are planned so as to create an energy-efficient building that can offer services to the community that otherwise may be lost at times, such as a shelter during periods of a power outage.

For more information about how you can join or support Makers Mill (planned to open late summer of this year), contact Josh or Carol at 603-569-1500 or info@makersmill.org.   

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