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USDA loan to fund Stonyfield Farm solar power


solar array
Businesses are using solar arrays to reduce energy costs significantly. File Photo/Maureen Milliken

WASHINGTON, D.C.Stonyfield Farm is among businesses in Maine and New Hampshire that will benefit in $15.2 million in renewable energy loans to Aligned Solar Partners from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Electric Infrastructure Loan program.

Aligned Solar Partners, part of Aligned Climate Capital, is joining with energy provider Eversource to power the Stonyfield Farms processing plant in Londonderry with the USDA funding. 

Using solar arrays in Conway, Loudon and two in Nashua, Stonyfield will reduce energy costs significantly, the USDA said in a Jan. 30 news release. The project is anticipated to produce 7,098,352 kilowatt hours of clean energy annually.

The announcement aligns with Stonyfield Farm’s 2021 commitment that the Londonderry manufacturing plant would be powered by 100 percent renewable energy by the end of 2022. Aligned Climate Capital is the project owner, and GSSG Solar, LLC is the project developer on the solar projects.

The Loudon and Conway solar arrays are on land owned by private residents and the lease payments help them to keep the land in their families, Stonyfield said in a news release.

The loan USDA program makes insured loans and loan guarantees to nonprofit and cooperative associations, public bodies, and other utilities that primarily finance electric distribution facility construction in rural areas. 

The loan funding “reflects the agency’s proactive commitment to fighting climate change head-on,” said USDA New Hampshire Director for Rural Development Sarah Waring. “With this investment, Stonyfield Farm will be positioned to create more jobs, more business opportunities and more resilience in the face of future challenges — while doing its part to reduce carbon emissions. Lower costs ensure the long-term viability of New Hampshire’s farms and agricultural producers, who are increasingly on the forefront of the transition to clean energy. With projects like this, the USDA is making the promise to power tomorrow’s rural economies through innovation, imagination and collaboration for generations to come.”

Aligned Solar has built another array in Livermore Falls, Maine, on farmland owned by the Southern family.

The five arrays generate 10.291 MWdc, which is enough to power an average 1,800 homes annually, the USDA said.

The Maine project is a partnership with Aligned and ReVision Energy. The 14,040-panel array at Souther Farms will provide 96% of its solar energy to five public schools in coastal and western Maine, offsetting their energy costs, with the remaining 4% benefiting the Farmington Water District, in Franklin County.

The project is anticipated to produce 6,478,200 kilowatt hours of clean energy annually.

“This project is fantastic in its breadth,” said USDA Rural Development Maine Director Rhiannon Hampson. She said through the lease of his land, Harold Southern, the 99-year-old owner of Southern Farms “secured his generational family farm while helping several school districts offset carbon emissions and reduce utility costs.”

“With this thoughtful demonstration of how working agricultural lands and renewable energy projects can coexist, Mr. Souther has left a legacy of innovation, proving once again that our heritage industries have the capacity to adapt,” Hampson said. “He made each student within collaborating districts a partner in building their brighter futures, and has offered us a stellar example to chart a course by.”


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