The Wrack: solar power

blog of the wells reserve & laudholm trust

The following was published in the Biddeford-Saco Journal Tribune Sunday edition, 2/19/2017, and Making It At Home's 2/16/2017 issue.

Snug fit

Image: Volunteer Cliff Babkirk from Sanford pops in a custom-made window insert at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm’s Visitor Center.


My family and I were some of the last visitors to wander through the Willowbrook Museum in Newfield before it permanently closed last fall. As we perused the houses, barns, and sheds filled with furniture and tools from the 19th century, I felt the vast landscape of time lying between then and now.

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Abraham Lincoln O-116 by Gardner, 1865-crop' by Alexander Gardner - Library of CongressNative nameLibrary of CongressLocationWashington, D.C.Coordinates38° 53? 19? N, 77° 00? 17? Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -,_1865-crop.png#/media/File:Abraham_Lincoln_O-116_by_Gardner,_1865President Abraham Lincoln, February 1865. He looks tired.

The following was published in the Biddeford-Saco Journal Tribune Sunday edition, 4/26/2015.

One hundred and fifty years ago this month, the Civil War staggered to a bloody and exhausted end. Our nation lay in ruins: our national psyche fractured, half our economy and infrastructure reduced to ashes, 750,000 battlefield casualties (1 in 10 white men in America of military age lay dead). Why did we fight those four long years, at such cost to country and kin?

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solar installation at Maine Audubon's Gilsland Farm

Photo: the new sun-tracking solar panels at Maine Audubon


The following was published in the Biddeford-Saco Journal Tribune Sunday edition, 3/29/2015.

Around the time I turned six years old, a funny thing happened. Starting in 1984, each successive month was warmer than its 20th century global average. That doesn’t mean December 1985 was warmer than November 1985. It means December 1985 was warmer, around the world, than the average temperature in December from 1900-1985. So was January 1986. And so was February 1986.

And June 1992. March 1997. August 2004. February 2015.

For the past thirty years (and counting), each month has been warmer than its average. We may remember, year to year, locally colder Januarys or cooler Julys, but around the world, our collective thermometers have not seen a dip for 360 straight months. The odds of this happening randomly are, well, Powerball-esque.

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Associated People Paul Dest Nik Charov

WELLS, Maine, March 23, 2015 — On Friday, the Wells Reserve at Laudholm celebrated becoming the first nonprofit in Maine to meet 100 percent of its electricity needs with solar energy. Over the past two years, the reserve installed 248 solar panels that are expected to generate 73,000 kilowatt-hours of electrical energy while preventing 45 tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere each year.

“This action moves us toward full energy independence, lightens our carbon footprint, and sets the bar for Maine’s nonprofits and business community,” said Nik Charov, president of Laudholm Trust. “We want this project to show Mainers this can be done. The science is clear on what is happening to our world and the solutions to our climate problem are right in front of us.”

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Now 100% Solar

March 16, 2015 By Scott Richardson Filed under Article Tags: energy conservationsolar power

Going 100 percent solar at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm

The Wells Reserve at Laudholm is the first nonprofit in Maine to go 100% solar. Our photovoltaic systems now generate enough solar energy to meet all of our electricity needs. We've met this goal 2 years ahead of schedule and celebrate the accomplishment on the spring equinox this Friday.

Why Go 100% Solar?

  • Reducing carbon emissions is essential for battling climate change.
  • Reducing energy costs will strengthen our science, education, and conservation programs.
  • With dedicated partners, vision, and leadership Maine has the capacity to reach for energy independence and a sustainable future.

System Facts

  • Four solar arrays – 3 rooftop and 1 ground-mounted
  • 248 individual panels
  • 73,000 kWh produced annually *
  • 90,000 pounds of CO2 offset annually
  • Cost:  $207,157

See our Solar Stats

View energy produced, CO2 avoided, dollars reimbursed, and daily and monthly yields.

Graph showing 2 days of solar power generation

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Associated People Paul Dest

Staring at the camera through cardboard-tube binoculars. Photo courtesy Jackie Lipsky.

The Wells Reserve at Laudholm is a timeless place, but these are changing times.

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Wells Reserve at Laudholm has set a goal like no other organization in Maine.

“We are well underway in securing solar power to run our operation,” said Paul Dest, director of the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve. “Our goal is to become 100 percent self-sufficient on solar power.”

For those who know the Wells Reserve at Laudholm, it is no surprise that it would chart such ambitious goals. It has a rich history of development and progress.

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Associated People Paul Dest

Sunny dayTwo years ahead of schedule, our goal to obtain all our electricity from the sun is within reach. We have been awarded two grants to launch the final phase of our initiative. With $86,898 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and $10,000 from the Davis Conservation Foundation, we are poised to install another set of photovoltaic panels on the Alheim property while making energy efficiency improvements in the Visitor Center. If we can raise just $30,000 more in donations by December 31 Our dual “conserve and convert” effort will make us the first nonprofit in Maine to meet 100% of our electricity requirements using solar power.

In the first 14 months of our commitment to solar, our system has produced 74,425 KWh of electricity, avoiding 96,807 pounds of carbon dioxide and saving $10,345. You can always see our current statistics online.

Kilowatt-hours of solar power generated at the Wells Reserve, April 2013 to June 2014

Kilowatt-hours of solar power generated at the Wells Reserve, April 2013 to June 2014


This article appeared in Watermark 31(1): Summer 2014

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Full Power Ahead

July 18, 2014 By Nik Charov Filed under Article Tags: solar powersustainabilitytwo worlds

Associated People Paul Dest

Energy supplies

The following was published in the Biddeford-Saco Journal Tribune Sunday edition, 7/20/2014.

If the Wells Reserve at Laudholm had an oil well and a refinery and a power plant on site, we could keep the lights on, fill up our heating oil tank, and top off my Volkswagen every day for cheap. But we don’t. That’s just one of the drawbacks of fossil fuels: the infrastructure needs are enormous. Add the geopolitical strife, the pollution, and the finite supply of oil, coal, and natural gas, and it’s a wonder that our society uses the stuff as greedily as we do.

We can’t live without energy. Fossil fuels power the global economic engine, and they’re immensely profitable to their producers. If only they didn’t have those annoying consequences. If fossil fuels were as vast, inexhaustible, and reliable as the sun that rises daily over our heads, they’d be great.

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150,000 pounds of carbon reduced/offset annuallyThe Wells Reserve at Laudholm is undergoing a C-Change*. At the start of 2012, we embarked on a multi-year, ambitious energy conservation and conversion initiative.

The initiative's goals were straight-forward but important:

  1. Begin the conversion to renewable energy for our electricity
  2. Conserve the energy we use for lighting and heating our buildings
  3. Make our overall operational practices more sustainable.

As a consequence of these efforts, we expected to reduce the amount of carbon we emit into the atmosphere and lessen the materials we use in everyday tasks. Now, a little over 18 months since the initiative began, we have made great strides in the areas of conversion and conservation.

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Jennifer Hatch, Marketing Manager for ReVision Energy, provided an informative introduction to solar energy options for homeowners on Wednesday evening in Mather Auditorium. Over 40 people attended this Climate Stewards evening lecture, and one lucky winner, Mr. Jed Thomas, went home with the solar charger door prize (below)!

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Turning Down the Heat

January 3, 2013 By Nik Charov Filed under Article Tags: campusdonationssolar powerwatermark

Water tower in winterThe Wells Reserve at Laudholm is special. Not a day passes that we don’t think of this unique place as a gift to those of us who work here, to the wildlife that abounds here, to the coast of Maine and to the international community of estuaries, and of course to our members and to the public.

Because so much of our operating support comes from our members and donors, we believe it is in the best service to you and your gifts that we operate as efficiently and effectively as possible.

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Showing blog posts tagged solar power: 15 of 13