Sun power

Using solar arrays, MacDowell reports generating 10 percent more electricity each year than what it needs to power the 450-acre, 39-building artists

retreat in Peterborough.

PETERBOROUGH — MacDowell is celebrating one year of generating 100 percent of electricity used on site through a pair of solar arrays, the latest of which was completed in January 2020.

The Peterborough artists retreat now generates 10 percent more electricity each year than what it needs to power the 450-acre, 39-building property, according to a news release MacDowell issued this week. The two arrays are estimated to prevent around 161 tons of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere every year, the release says.

The first of MacDowell’s two panels went online in 2016 and was followed by the second array a few years later. Together, they produce a combined 131.5 megawatt hours of power annually, equivalent to the amount of electricity consumed by a typical refrigerator over 200 years, the release says.

The use of solar power is just one way MacDowell says it is working to be more environmentally friendly. Over the past couple of decades, the retreat has been weatherizing its buildings to prevent heat loss and converting to electric heat pumps, and has also replaced an old fuel-oil boiler with a wood pellet one. According to the release, there’s more to come.

“MacDowell’s path toward energy sustainability is being realized in three overlapping stages, beginning with the lowest hanging fruit: first, by preventing energy waste through insulation and weather-proofing; second, by adding photovoltaic arrays on site to generate renewable energy,” Resident Director David Macy said in the release. “And we are still early in the third phase of eliminating fossil fuel use for heating the studios by replacing them with electric heat pumps.”

The retreat has also taken smaller steps to reduce its energy usage, such as switching to LED lighting in some areas and replacing appliances with more energy-efficient models.

Mia Summerson can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1435, or msummerson@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @MiaSummerson