Tolland County Farm Bureau provides a scholarship every year to a Tolland County student attending UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. The Diurna & Franklin Kibbe & Cyril Green Scholarship goes to a Tolland County resident attending the University of Connecticut, CAHNR. Please contact Stacey Stearns at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-486-9228 for additional information and an application. Completed applications are due July 27th.
Bishop’s Orchards, a Guilford, CT six generation family-owned and operated farm since 1871, completed a 357 kW ground mounted solar array that went online in December 2017 and a 120 kW rooftop solar array in August 2017 at their Farm Market identified by their landmark “Big Red Apple” on US Rt.1. Energy savings projects are not new to the family, as major Energy Efficiency programs in 2009 and 2016 were accomplished after audits by the EnergizeCT Small Business program. As an environmentally conscious company committed to gaining energy independence, Bishop’s Orchards selected Independence Solar, LLC for both projects from 8 bidders responding to their RFP. Installation of the system was assisted by the Munger Construction Company, a leading full-service construction company in Branford serving Southern CT. The ground and roof panels will provide 80% of Bishop’s annual energy consumption, including their farm refrigeration needs, cider making and Farm Market, which will prevent 12,000 tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere over the life of the projects. On 1.1 acres are 1108 Panels in 17 rows. The roof array on the Farm Market, has 381 panels. The combined systems are 477 kW DC (366 kW DC) and are expected to produce 596,700 kWh per year. Keith Bishop’ Co-CEO, reflected “Our new solar array is engineered to maximize (hence the shape) the harvest of the sun’s rays on our New England hillside that was formed by glaciers. With shallow soils and exposed ledge, it was a wonderful sledding hill for me and generations of Bishop children, even when Christmas trees grew there! But now we’re growing kWh (kilowatt hours) that will displace fossil fuels to power about 80% of our farm’s annual electric usage, and power our Electric Vehicle (EV) chargers that are free for public use via our installation agreement with CT DEEP. As longtime stewards of the environment and healthy eating for the community, this is a proud moment in our family business history to reduce energy costs and lower our carbon footprint while not using any productive farmland.” Bishop’s ground solar array is located 600 feet from the farm market, but due to CT PURA (Public Utilities Regulatory Authority) regulations, only Public Utilities can cross a public right-of-way with power which presented a challenge. Virtual Net Metering (VNM) was approved by the CT legislature and PURA decisions in 2014, so agriculture could produce renewable power in one location and ‘pay’ to move it thru the utility grid from the host location to the beneficial account where the power is needed. Bishop’s VNM application was submitted in May 2016, and received regulatory approval in November 2016. Concurrently Bishop’s competitively bid for a ZEREC (Zero Emissions Renewable Energy Credit Program) award from Eversource and applied to the US Dept. of Agriculture for REAP funding to insure the ground solar would be financially feasible. Keith added, “Based upon prudent financial projections, in 8 years the solar investment will be paid for, I’ll be retired and my children, the 6th Generation will be continuing the stewardship, growing and farming of our 313 acres, supported by a great community and thousands of families who visit to enjoy our crops, market, Pick Your Own, CSA and Winery. Want to see what the solar power is now? Click here for live stats and more background on our project and our partners.