Makers Mill Going Solar in Support of Town’s Master Plan

If you happen to be driving past 23 Bay Street in Wolfeboro later this summer and look up at the roof of GALA’s newly renovated Makers Mill building, you’ll catch a glimpse of a pretty impressive solar array perched up there. Thirty panels to be precise, with more to come in the future.

The Makers Mill building design continues GALA’s commitment to sustainability, creating the conditions that foster a healthy community, economy, and environment. Efficient heating and cooling systems will be designed for the space, and stormwater mitigation will be explored via the use of green roofs, rain gardens, rainwater collection, and permeable paving, while good natural daylighting throughout will reduce the need for artificial lighting.

GALA’s history with solar installation goes back around a decade 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. 

A few years later, 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 plan 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. The need for communities to focus on ways to provide energy security and resiliency is a growing priority these days as we grapple with shifting environmental imbalances and breached technology defenses that in turn impact downstream resources such as nutritious food, fresh water, fertile soil, clean air, and ultimately the health and quality of life. 

A team from Revision Energy’s Brentwood NH location will install an 11.1 kW Generac photovoltaic solar array projected to average 11,650 kWh per year.  The Generac battery system will provide 18 kWh of power for essential loads during grid outages and provide the opportunity to keep more self-generated clean power on our side of the electric meter. This will keep life/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. In a twist of serendipity, the ReVision Energy team leader on the Makers Mill project is Craig Cadieux who was a volunteer and advisor on GALA’s Solar Raisers.

The installation of the Makers Mill solar and battery has been funded by an anonymous donor, which means this substantial expense and subsequent saving generated by the system, can be invested back into the makerspace programs, tools, and operations. 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 for periods of power outage.

The next fundraising project on Makers Mill’s list is $60,000 for an accessible elevator called a LULA that will operate between the first and second interior floors. A LULA is a Limited Use/Limited Application hybrid between a commercial elevator and a wheelchair lift. While it looks and works like a traditional elevator, a LULA’s main purpose is to provide accessibility for access-challenged residents or visitors to a building. Donations towards the LULA can be made online, or by sending a check to Makers Mill, PO Box 2267, Wolfeboro NH 03894.

For more information about how you can join or support Makers Mill (opening later this year), contact Josh or Carol at 603-569-1500 or info@makersmill.org.

Makers Mill is a 501 (c) 3 charitable organization and donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent permitted by law. EIN #  65-1286865

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