PROJECT: Bethel Solar Project
By Mauli Sand
Several months ago, National Renewable Solutions (NRS) began developing a solar project near the western boundary of the state of Maine. Located just 3.5 miles east of the town center of Bethel, this project was aptly named the Bethel Solar Project.
Led by the efforts of our Director of Solar, Brad Wilson, this project went from a dormant gravel pit to a fully permitted, interconnected, surveyed and designed 3MW solar development asset. Since then, NRS partnered with Summit Ridge Energy, which now owns 100% of the project. Construction has begun, and the Bethel Solar Project will soon be a source of clean energy for Maine energy customers.
While developing renewable energy projects may be the “outward facing” business of National Renewable Solutions, we believe engaging and building relationships with the people who live and work in our project communities is at the heart of what we do. In fact, many of us admit that it’s the part of our job that we love most. Typically, as we are in the throes of development work, we look for ways to invest in the communities where we develop projects to ensure everyone benefits from the project—not just those with solar panels or turbines spinning.
In Bethel, it wasn’t long before we learned about Mahoosuc Land Trust (MLT), a local conservation organization that has permanently conserved over 20,0000 acres in western Maine and eastern New Hampshire. As we spent more time getting to know the people in the area, the Land Trust kept coming up in conversation, so we decided we needed to meet with them.
“As Brad and I met with several of the Land Trust’s leaders—initially at the Bethel Solar Project site itself—and we shared information about our respective organizations, it began to emerge how well aligned we are in our goals to invest in the community for the betterment of those who live there, while also engaging in the fight to combat climate change. It was clear from the start that this partnership was the right one to ensure NRS has a long-lasting positive impact in the Bethel community,” said Lindsey Ransom, Chief Operating Officer of NRS.
The two groups collectively brainstormed to devise a meaningful way for NRS to contribute to the community through a partnership with MLT. Mahoosuc Land Trust’s Pollinator Garden presented us with a wonderful opportunity to give back to the people of the community while also positively impacting the local ecosystem. As a result, we are proud to contribute $25,000 towards the ongoing expansion and maintenance of the MLT Pollinator Garden and its Habitat for All outreach program that inspires garden visitors to create pollinator-friendly landscapes in their own yards.
MLT Executive Director, Kirk Siegel, said, “From our first meeting, we saw NRS as a synergistic partner that benefits the local and global environment by decarbonizing energy. MLT is working on a parallel course by helping insect populations and the biodiversity that depends on them while preserving thousands of acres of carbon-sequestering forestland to buffer climate change.”
The work we did on the Bethel Solar Project, combined with our partnership with the Mahoosuc Land Trust will have meaningful climate positive impact both for the people of Bethel, as well as the overall energy makeup in Maine—which is certainly worth celebrating. Something to think about if you ever find yourself immersed in the milkweeds, blazing stars and Black-Eyed Susans in MLT’s Pollinator Garden (which we highly recommend).