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Special Projects

Part of LRCT’s land conservation work includes undertaking special projects that align with our conservation values. Currently, LRCT has two special projects we are focusing on including our Carbon Offset Project and most recently our Solar Shares Project. 

NH Solar Shares Project

The Lakes Region Conservation Trust has partnered with NH Solar Shares to bring a community solar PV project to the Center Harbor region, which provides solar bill credits to local families in need of assistance with their electric bill. As of November 2023, the installation has been completed and inspected, and it now generates solar energy.

“We are delighted to partner with LRCT to build our third project. This project will produce enough solar to benefit 12 families (that rotate every two years) from the towns of Center Harbor, Moultonborough, Holderness, or Sandwich.” – Caryn Shield, NH Solar Shares Program Coordinator

“We are excited to partner with NH Solar Shares to bring more clean energy onto the grid that will benefit local families. And we are fully behind the project goal to design an environmentally-friendly solar field with minimal impact during the construction phase where the habitat is improved with pollinator plants and low blueberry bushes.” – Don Berry, LRCT President

The existing field behind the LRCT Headquarters was chosen as the site for this installation because tree removal was not needed. The site also has a 97% Total Solar Resource Factor making the generation of solar electricity very effective.

Before Install
After Install

On November 30th the solar installers programmed the inverters and one day later the system had already generated 116kWH of clean renewable energy for our local electricity grid! The solar project consists of two ground-mounted arrays using (70) 500w solar PV panels. The panels are the new bi-facial technology designed to also produce power from the reflection of the snow. 100% of the solar energy generated will be credited to 12 income-qualified households in the region starting in February 2024.

The final steps, come Spring, will be to plant more blueberry bushes and perennial flowers, seed the work road, install a kiosk and picnic table and complete the solar trail that will link up with LRCT’s existing trail that starts in the back of the parking lot. Also in the Spring, we will be holding a ribbon cutting and will dedicate/name the solar trail.

Four Inverters

Supporting the Project

This project was a success thanks to the partnership between Lakes Region Conservation Trust, Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative (PAREI), Barrington Power, Mains Electric, Mauchly Electric, NH Electric Cooperative Foundation, NH Dept of Energy’s Renewable Energy Fund, NH Charitable Foundation, Hammond Climate Solutions and volunteers from Americorps, LRCT and PAREI. For more information on how to donate, volunteer or sign up for free solar bill credits email nhsolarshares@plymouthenergy.org

About NH Solar Shares

NH Solar Shares was founded in 2018 by New Hampshire Electric Co-op (NHEC) and the Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative (PAREI). Their mission is to “Share the Sun with Neighbors” by using local volunteers, grassroots fundraising, and grants. NH Solar Shares has helped dozens of income-qualified families in NHEC service territory AND added local, renewable power to the electric grid. 

LRCT’s Forest Carbon Project

In 2013 California launched the carbon offset program as part of a larger initiative to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to 60% of 1990 emissions. Under this initiative, California established emission limits for regulated entities. These limits decrease each year. If a regulated entity emits more than it is allowed, it can offset up to 8% of its allowed carbon dioxide by purchasing carbon offsets from LRCT and other landowners.

In the spring of 2018, LRCT registered 8,000 acres of its owned conserved properties in a forest carbon project with California’s Carbon Offset Program. LRCT’s properties contain more carbon than the surrounding forests as established by the US Forest Service, and this additional carbon was monetized as carbon offsets by the State of California’s Carbon Offset program. The additional stored carbon of LRCT’s forests is equivalent to the annual carbon footprint of 80,000 automobiles. Now that the project is registered, LRCT may not harvest the amount of carbon that was issued as carbon offsets, however, LRCT may harvest the growth of the forest each year if it chooses to do so.  In 2020 LRCT sold its offsets to a company that develops renewable energy resources and holds carbon offset assets. 

LRCT used its carbon offset revenue to install solar panels on LRCT’s headquarters and to support LRCT’s long-term land stewardship and management responsibilities and secure the protection of wildlife habitat, water resources, climate resiliency, scenic values, and recreational opportunities on LRCT conserved lands. To fulfill the requirements of California’s program, LRCT must manage its project forests sustainably and inventory their carbon content periodically for the next 100 years.

LRCT joins other New England conservation groups, including the Appalachian Mountain Club and New England Forestry Foundation in participating in the California Carbon Offset program to support forest conservation and to help protect the planet.

 

Ensuring Carbon Content

Two key steps in the registration process for a forest carbon project are the forest inventory and its verification steps. You may notice signs of the inventory work when visiting LRCT properties.  So that you’ll understand what you’re seeing, we want to tell you a little about the process:

During the inventory, a set of permanent circular plot sites are established, evenly spaced throughout the project site. Each plot site has a radius of 37.2 feet, and the plots are centered on a metal rod secured into the ground. There are 192 plot sites a quarter mile apart from one another on the LRCT-owned lands that are part of the forest carbon project.

Within each plot, foresters measure the height and diameter of all living and standing dead trees larger than five inches at breast height. These trees are numbered and marked with paint and in some cases, with a metal tag. Inventory of three plots requires a day’s work by a skilled forester. After the measurements have been completed, the carbon content is calculated for each plot and then a statistical process is used to determine the carbon content of the entire project area.

For more information, click on the photo below to view the Land Trust Alliance’s Saving Land Magazine “Looking to the Land to Mitigate Climate Change” featuring LRCT’s Carbon Project.

Additional Information About Carbon Offset Programs