PUC approves Unitil plan for Kingston solar array

Construction on largest array in the state to begin later this year

The NH Public Utilities Commission has approved a plan from the utility company Unitil to build a solar array in Kingston — one the company says would be the largest in the state.

Unitil spokesperson Alec O’Meara said the company plans to begin construction later this year.

“It’s an opportunity for us to put more renewable energy on the system and create, hopefully, greater price stability for our customers and lower energy costs,” he said.

The array is set to be built on 62 acres in Kingston near a Unitil substation. It will have an output of 4.88 megawatts.

In New Hampshire, utility companies aren’t allowed to own power-generating facilities. But there are exceptions for small local resources — utilities can own resources that generate up to 6 percent of the power they need to provide during peak demand hours.

One way the solar array will help Unitil cut costs for consumers, O’Meara said, is through reducing “line loss,” or the energy that’s lost as electricity travels from a power plant to an individual user.

Building these smaller-scale power generators can help reduce the overall costs of the electric system and aid in the clean energy transition, said Chris Skoglund, director of energy transition at Clean Energy NH.

More “distributed energy resources,” like the Kingston solar array, can reduce the upgrades needed on transmission lines — the big power lines that connect homes and power plants.

“It’s really demonstrating that there is value in building distributed energy resources around the state,” Skoglund said.

The company plans to take advantage of federal tax credits through the Inflation Reduction Act to help build the array, O’Meara said.

Unitil expects the array to have a net benefit of $2.5 million, according to the order from state regulators.

A much larger array proposed in Keene was granted zoning variances in April. That project is expected to start construction in 2026.

This article is being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information, visit collaborativenh.org.

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