New solar panels power Temple Beth Abraham, electrifying congregation and city officials

Telegraph photo by DEAN SHALHOUP A small solar panel leans on the dias as Dan Weeks, a representative of the employee-owned Revision Energy solar installation firm, speaks to attendees at Sunday's event celebrating a clean energy transition at Temple Beth Abraham in Nashua.

NASHUA – Temple Beth Abraham has taken a giant step forward in its ongoing mission to become as environmentally friendly as possible, and that effort was celebrated Sunday with a special event that drew numerous temple leaders and congregation members, along with local and state office holders.

“We are capturing rays from the sun that will generate, initially, 80 percent of our electrical needs,” Temple Beth Abraham president David Sacks told the group of about 30 people who turned out for the afternoon event.

“The benefits are obvious.”

An array of 247 solar panels capable of generating 77.8 kilowatts of electricity were recently installed on sections of the roof of the Raymond Street synogogue, a project described as a partnership of the temple and Revision Energy, an employee-owned firm founded in Midcoast Maine in 2003.

Backed by “local, mission-driven investors,” the project was able to be completed at no cost to the congregation, according to the temple’s Website.

Helping to maximize the benefits of the conversion was the installation of “new, ultra-efficient LED lighting” throughout the building, which has served the local Jewish community since 1960.

According to Sacks, the temple will have an opportunity to “buy out” the system in five years, and if that comes to pass, the 80 percent figure could rise to 100 percent of the building’s total electrical needs.

“Even if we don’t succeed in maximizing it, it’s still a significant benefit,” Sacks said.

Rabbi Jonathan Spira-Savett said the solar project is the result “of at least a decade of vision … that began with new insulation,” he said of the temple’s goal to become as energy-independent as possible.

Other initiatives over the past decade include “all but eliminating” the use of disposable plastic items such as plates and utensils, and a comprehensive composting program.

Ward 3 Alderwoman Pat Klee, whose ward includes the temple, praised temple officials and their partners for “taking the light and doing good with it.

“You’re giving back by using it for the greater good,” Klee added, also praising active temple members Alan and Becky Green “for shepherding this project.”

State Rep. Suzanne Vail, one of three Democratic state representatives who represent Nashua’s Ward 3, called the project a community effort.

“When a community gets together, it’s good for everyone … Revision Energy and the temple are making the world a better place,” she said.

Currently, “there are several pieces of legislation in the House” relating to solar and other environmentally-based initiatives,” Vail added.

To Dan Weeks, a local social justice advocate and one of the 260 employees who own Revision Energy, said the project is a significant accomplishment in “repairing the world … by taking some of the damaging pollution – some 100 million tons per day – and reducing it not only to protect human health, but the health of all living things.”

The temple has become “a leader in what is a growing movement in Nashua and across the state,” Weeks said, referring to solar and environmental programs.

He noted that Nashua’s Board of Aldermen has approved, pending final passage, legislation calling for the installation of solar panels on a number of city rooftops.

Those include the Conway Ice Arena and the Nashua PAL building, Weeks said. “There’s good momentum here, and reason for hope.”

Dean Shalhoup may be reached at 594-1256, dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_DeanS.