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Here comes the sun

"The Alteris group we're working with is out of Montpelier," Waxler said. "At all times we try to use Vermont people. We want to keep the money here."

Solar energy and Vermont isn't always an intuitive pairing, but Ploesser said there's plenty of sunlight, even on a cloudy day, to keep the silicon cells generating electricity. Even Vermont's heavy snowfall shouldn't prevent the solar farm from "harvesting" the Sun.

"There a misconception about photovoltaics," Waxler noted. "You don't necessarily need direct sunlight. Germany and Spain are the leaders currently and those nations have less direct sunlight than Vermont. Of course Arizona has a higher efficiency but we can generate a lot of electricity from the Sun here."

According to Ploesser, even Vermont's heavy snowfall won't stop the Ferrisburgh Solar Farm from producing electricity.

"Snow will slide right off the panels," Ploesser said. "It's like a metal roof. We even left room for snow to accumulate. If it gets above four feet, we can get a plow in between the array rows to remove the white stuff."

The array panels are modular, each panel connects to another with wiring that is akin to a home extension chord.

"At the middle of the array set," Ploesser said, "the wiring goes underground through a series of underground conduits to the inverter. There are no batteries involved, no electrical storage here."

To help educate the public about the benefits of solar energy and the Ferrisburgh Solar Farm in particular, Tracey Schoonmaker, Pomerleau development coordinator, is creating an information kiosk at the array site that will explain the marvels of science and engineering behind photovoltaic technology. Schoonmaker said VUHS science students will also be involved with the solar farm project, making it a perfect partnership with an energy learning lab located next door to the high school.

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