Hallowell inn taps sun for its electricity

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HALLOWELL (AP) – A central Maine inn that has been drawing some power from its wind turbine has now installed what’s believed to be Maine’s largest solar electric-hot water system added to its renewable energy storehouse.

Together, the wind turbine and solar panels are expected to provide one-third to half of the energy needs at the Maple Hill Farm Bed and Breakfast Inn and Conference Center, co-owner Scott Cowger said Thursday.

The 15-kilowatt solar system covers the roof of the 150-seat conference center in the small city next to Augusta. The solar system was completed in December but a formal ribbon-cutting was held Thursday.

The $166,000 system was designed and installed by Energyworks LLC of Liberty and Portland. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provided $41,500 grant and the state Public Utilities Commission provided a $35,000 low-interest loan.

Cowger said the PUC financing helps to speed up the payback period, which he estimates will be five years. Maple Hill also was to receive a $3,000 check Thursday from the Maine Energy Investment Corp., which installed equipment to monitor the photovoltaic portion of the solar system that will be posted in the Internet.

PUC figures indicate that the Hallowell inn’s solar power-hot water system is Maine’s largest, Cowger said.

The combined 202-tube solar electric and hot water system is expected to reduce the Maple Hill business’s annual carbon dioxide emissions by more than 40,000 pounds.

Cowger, a former legislator who co-chaired the Natural Resources Committee, said he brings into his business “a strong personal commitment to minimizing our impact on the environment.”

Maple Hill has been cited as a green-energy leader among Maine’s lodging businesses and received the Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence. The 10-kilowatt wind turbine was installed in 2003.



On the Net:

Maple Hill Farm B&B and Conference Center: www.maplebb.com/map.jpg

Energyworks LLC: http://www.energyworksllc.com/

AP-ES-01-18-07 1053EST

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