Orvis Goes (Partially) Solar

Posted
cmadigan@benningtonbanner.com

SUNDERLAND — For Manchester's iconic business institution Orvis, the future looks sunny.

Teaming up with the New Hampshire based solar developer SunRaise, Orvis recently installed a 75 kilowatt solar array on the rooftop of their corporate headquarters in Sunderland.

The retailer, a national brand specializing in fishing, hunting, and sporting goods, was founded in Manchester in 1856. The company now boasts over 80 retail stores in both the U.S. and U.K., with more than 400 dealers of their products and a popular mail-order service.

Occupying 12,000 square feet of the building's rooftop, the solar panels are anticipated to generate approximately 20% of Orvis' electricity needs. That's comparable to 70,000 pounds of coal per year or 7,200 gallons of gasoline.

While development for the project began in 2015, construction was put on hold soon after when the Vermont solar program reached its cap for new solar projects to be connected to the Green Mountain Power grid. The cap on the solar program was lifted in July of 2016, and construction resumed that fall with service beginning in December.

"The entire construction process went very smoothly with little to no disruption to ouroccupied facility," said Bruce Woodruff, the manager of Orvis' Vermont facilities. "Now, instead of just keeping the rain outside, our roof space produces electricity for us. It's a win-win for us all."

Construction of the solar array was financed by SunRaise through a solar equipment lease agreement. Under this agreement Orvis is charged for the panels via a monthly lease, but this cost is negated by the savings in energy costs and associated energy credits.

"In addition to substantially reducing our carbon footprint, we will see a proportional reduction in our monthly electricity costs that allows us to reallocate those funds to conservation efforts worldwide," said Ken Smith, Vice President of Customer Operations for Orvis.

Considering Orvis' importance in the realm of outdoor recreation, it is no surprise that the brand has made environmental conservation a top priority with 5% of the company's pre-tax profits supporting conservation efforts across the globe. Orvis' support of renewable energy options is reflected throughout the state, with 5.68% of Vermont's electricity coming from solar energy according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. In 2015 Burlington became the first city in the United State to source 100% its power from renewable energy sources like solar.

Following the example set by large businesses like Orvis, Manchester may well be catching up.

Reach Cherise Madigan at 802-490-6471.

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