With the December 2015 installation of a 240-panel solar array, AMC’s Cardigan Lodge and Three Mile Island Camp have gone solar, capturing power to serve electrical needs at both New Hampshire locations.
In this way, Cardigan, in Alexandria, and Three Mile, in Meredith, are doing their part to help AMC achieve its goal of cutting the organization’s carbon footprint 80 percent by 2050.
While the array is located in a small field beside Cardigan Lodge, the installation also benefits AMC’s Three Mile Island Camp on nearby Lake Winnipesaukee, effectively reducing its environmental impact through a practice known as group net metering. When the solar array produces more power than needed at Cardigan, the excess power is fed back into the grid. Three Mile Island Camp receives that credit, offsetting its electrical use as well.
“This investment in large-scale solar power is an important step toward achieving our long-term carbon-cutting goals with a clean, renewable source of electricity,” says Paul Cunha, AMC’s vice president of outdoor operations. “It fits well with our longstanding commitment to operating lightly on the land and minimizing environmental impacts across our range of destinations.”
This isn’t the first use of what’s known as photovoltaics at Cardigan; a solar hot-water preheat system was installed there in 2009. But the new 73.2-kilowatt system is much larger and has the capacity to serve all electrical needs at the lodge and Three Mile. It is expected to produce 87,000 kilowatts of solar-generated power per year, which is equivalent to displacing the carbon dioxide emissions produced by burning 157 barrels of oil, according to ReVision Energy, the Exeter, N.H., firm that installed the array.
The project was financed via a purchase power agreement, through which AMC buys clean solar power from a third party, IGS Solar, at lower rates than if it were to purchase fossil-fuel-derived power through the electric grid. After six years, AMC can buy the system from IGS at a discount.
AMC has a long history of operating green energy systems. The organization’s eight White Mountain huts and two Maine Wilderness Lodges are off the grid and use solar power. Some huts also employ small wind vanes to generate power, and one uses a micro-hydro system. The entire hut system recognized by the New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association’s Sustainable Lodging and Restaurant Program as Environmental Champions, the highest of three levels of certification.
In Maine, AMC’s Little Lyford Lodge is certified by the state’s Environmental Leader program, and Gorman Chairback Lodge is registered with the national Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, one of few backcountry structures in the nation to be so recognized.
Read about AMC’s commitment to environmentally sustainable operations.