2012-10-11 / Front Page

Conanicut Marine goes green with solar

Updated facilities can save nearly 200,000 kwh yearly
BY KEN SHANE


Conanicut Marine Services recently installed solar arrays on the roofs of two of its buildings. The 4,000 tons of greenhouse gas that is avoided using the panels is equivalent to the energy used for 7.5 million auto miles. 
PHOTO BY JEFF MCDONOUGH Conanicut Marine Services recently installed solar arrays on the roofs of two of its buildings. The 4,000 tons of greenhouse gas that is avoided using the panels is equivalent to the energy used for 7.5 million auto miles. PHOTO BY JEFF MCDONOUGH The Conanicut Marine Services boatyard has been operating on 10 acres at Taylor Point for more than 30 years. During that time the yard’s four sheds have serviced recreational, competitive and commercial vessels of all sizes. Now, new solar arrays are being installed on two of the yard’s buildings that will provide clean power for the operation of the entire facility.

The work on the solar arrays is being done by a company called Efficient Energy Solutions, also known as E2SOL, a 3-year-old renewable energy developer and general contractor headquartered in East Greenwich. E2SOL boasts that it innovates renewable energy technologies, develops custom project solutions, and offers products designed to maximize energy consumption efficiencies.

E2SOL develops projects related to wind, solar and microhydro power. In addition to a solar hotwater installation, E2SOL’s previous work includes the sale and installment of a 50-kilowatt wind turbine for Safe Way Auto Center in Bristol. The company has also acquired the land rights to 56 acres in Massachusetts for the development of a 6-megawatt solar farm.

In December of last year, E2SOL entered into a contract with Conanicut Marine Services for the sale and installation of a new solar power array. According to Anthony Baro, the project director, E2SOL was hired to replace the roofs on two buildings and install a 126-kilowatt solar array on the facility. The updated facility has the potential to net meter approximately 184,548 kilowatt hours per year of the electrical power at Conanicut Marine Services through National Grid’s net metering program. The result will be a savings of nearly 4,000 tons of greenhouse gas over the course of the system’s 25-year lifespan. That savings is equivalent to the energy used for 7.5 million auto miles.

The boatyard project is the largest renewable energy facility to be developed in the state’s marine trades industry thus far. The effort is supported by a team of at least 15 local professionals, including Jack’s Electric of Jamestown. Other contractors on the job include F&S Electric, Munro Distributing and Capital Roofing. Work on the project is now approximately 50 percent complete. The new power system is expected to be fully functional later this fall.

According to Bill Munger, owner of Conanicut Marine, the move to solar power was a natural progression for his company. “We’ve always been proactive in the environmental world.”

Munger explained that two of the four boat sheds at his yard have roofs that face south. This allows them to gather the maximum amount of sunlight. Each of the two roofs is 210 feet long, creating a total of 420 linear feet of south-facing roofs. “The foundation to hold panels was already there, so it seemed kind of silly not to do something good with all that space.”

Munger said that by participating in National Grid’s net metering program, the solar arrays will not only provide power for the entire yard, but will produce excess power that can then be sold back to the utility company.

The decision to work with E2SOL came about when Munger saw the company’s booth at the Newport

International Boat Show two years ago. Munger said the two had an interesting conversation about conservation. The contractor offered to do an analysis of the electrical use at all of Munger’s facilities, which include the boatyard, the marina and the retail store on Narragansett Avenue.

“He did extremely comprehensive number crunching on what we were using for electricity and what we were paying,” Munger said. “He was proactive to come out and do the research on his nickel.”

Munger said the more he got into the process, the more interesting it became. Keeping in mind that the foundation for the project was already in place, he decided to go forward.

The upgrade to solar power at the boatyard may prove to be the end of the line as far as Conanicut Marine facilities are involved. Munger said that none of his other buildings have roofs that face south. As an example he cited the roof at the retail store at 20 Narragansett Ave., where the roof faces in the opposite direction. That would necessitate the installation of a rack system to hold the solar array, which means that it would not be economically feasible.

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