Vermont's largest solar-electric array, and the largest station of its kind north of New Jersey, will start generating electricity from sunlight sometime in early December. Christened the Ferrisburgh Solar Farm, the 15-acre energy station-located on the west side of U.S. Route 7 adjacent to the VUHS athletic fields-will "harvest" 1-megawatt of electricity from the Sun that will power the equivalent of nearly 200 homes. The photovoltaic electricity generated will be fed, via electrical inverter, to Green Mountain Power and the power grid.
Built and maintained by Ferrisburgh Solar Farm, LLC-a new
See SOLAR FARM, page 5
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project developed by Pomerleau Real Estate of Burlington-owner Ernest A. Pomerleau conceived of the big solar array and was the driving force in making the ambitious commercial venture a reality.
"If you think about what we're trying to accomplish here," said Steve Ploesser, vice president of construction management for Pomerleau, "we're trying to take sunlight and absorb as much of it as we can because it's the sunlight that activates the electrons in the silicon cells. The electrons are moving, they jump on to the wires embedded in the silicon and they shoot up to the main line."
The big array, when completed, will not "blind" automobile drivers descending Woodman Hill as some residents have suggested. Instead, the dark panels are designed to absorb as much sunlight as is technologically possible.
"These panels have under three percent reflectivity," Ploesser noted, "so there isn't much sunlight to reflect here."
The alternative energy engineering firm Alteris of Connecticut provided the technical skill to create a solar array that works in cloudy Vermont.
"We went to the professionals," said Ploesser. "They have expertise in building solar arrays."
According to Brian Waxler, executive vice president of Pomerleau, most of the design and construction work is being done by Vermonters.