The sun shining on Bistro Henry

MANCHESTER - Bistro Henry is in line to become the largest restaurant-housed solar tracker system in the state of Vermont; they will also be the first 100 percent solar-powered restaurant in Manchester, according to a recent press release.

Owner Henry Bronson said they have plans to build 10 solartracking panels, which will generate 85,000 kilowatts of power to Green Mountain Power. The kilowatts will run through a net-metering system, being sent straight to GMP's grid before being sent out to the restaurant, Bronson's house, and the Inn at Manchester.

"Henry just approached us about the project and we said 'sure, why not,'" said Julie Hanes, co-innkeeper of the Inn at Manchester. "With us, we really like the idea of solar power, and there is really no reason not to do it. It's a no-brainer."

"I chose them because I knew they would get it, are basically not my competition, are stable as a business, and I like [Innkeepers] Frank and Julie," said Bronson.

While she was not sure how the numbers might fluctuate, depending on the amount of sun received on a given day or the amount used by the restaurant from day to day, approximately 20 percent of the power would be going to their Inn, Hanes said.

The panels will be installed by AllEarth Renewables and Green Lantern Capital Investment, on the west end of the property to maximize the exposure to the sun.

"We're pretty lucky," said Bronson. "We have the land to do it exposure on the west side and the will to do it."

They have been able to complete the project due to an issuance of a Certificate of Public Good by the state. This certificate states that the project, one of an electric generation or transmission facility, promotes the general welfare of the state.

Bronson said that they hope to begin work on it within the next two weeks to a month.

Manchester may be seeing more solar projects in the future thanks to the select board's approval of Zoning Administrator Lee Krohn's Request for Proposal (RFP).

Early in the week, Krohn sent out an official request letter for solar-powered generation on town-owned lands. The proposals must include information on ten points, including locations to be considered, generating capacity, timeframe for construction and other contractual obligations, and life expectancy of equipment. Letters of interest that include experience and other qualifications, references, and work product examples must be included as well.

The proposals are due by noon on July 29, when they will be opened, reviewed, and considered.

This comes in the wake of the former potential solar project off Route 7, next to the Manchester Airport. In late April, a representative from EOS Ventures came to the town with a proposal to build a large solar farm in that area. The board gave him permission to place a bid with Vermont's SPEED Program; the bid, if it was a winning bid, would allow him to claim a certain amount of megawatts for their project. If it was not a winning bid, and after the winner claimed their megawatts, what remained would be available for the next-place winner to claim.

EOS Ventures did not secure a winning bid, and was not able to claim any megawattage for the solar project in Manchester. Currently, the land next to the airport, where the project was slated to go, remains unused.


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