Burr and Burton to get green power from Mount Equinox monks
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | April 27,2013
MANCHESTER — During Earth Week, Burr and Burton Academy earned a “triple win” in their agreement to buy power from a hydroelectric generator operated by the Carthusian monks whose monastery is on Mount Equinox, according to Headmaster Mark Tashjian.
“What I like about it is it’s a triple bottom line project. It has educational value. It has economic value in terms of cost savings and it has environmental value in terms of providing power that has zero carbon footprint,” he said.
Tashjian said the term of the agreement is five years and includes an option to renew for five years. The agreement also calls for Burr and Burton to pay 10 percent less for electricity than they had been paying.
While Tashjian said he didn’t know how much electricity Burr and Burton uses, he said they pay about $150,000 a year for electricity.
The independent high school, which serves students from local towns like Manchester, Dorset and Sunderland, will not only be getting green power that demonstrates responsible stewardship, it will also be adding another facet to its character that students can’t get anywhere else.
“It’s a pretty interesting and absolutely unique arrangement since the Carthusian monastery up there is the only one in the country. We can safely say we’re the only school in the country to be getting our electric power from a Carthusian monastery,” Tashjian said.
New York Times best-selling author and the monks’ liaison to the outside world, Monsignor Stephen Rossetti, said the hydroelectric power generation dated back to the late 1950s when an artificial lake was created through the construction of a dam. The lake was built to control flood waters and conserve soil but the controlled water was also directed to a stream where it could spin the turbines needed to generate electricity.
The hydroelectric project was built by Joseph George Davidson, who later bequeathed the land on Mount Equinox to the Carthusians.
Rossetti said the original generators were replaced with one new generator that went online in October. It provides power for the use of all the Catholic church’s buildings on the mountain.
The generator can produce up to 250 kilowatts and Rossetti said that was more than enough for the Carthusian monks’ needs. A decision was made to share that power with others.
“The prior, the head of the monks, said he felt that God had given us this resource and we should use it wisely. It’s part of the Catholic church’s responsible stewardship of the gift of creation which is very much in line with the whole green movement so we try to be green,” he said.
Rossetti said Burr and Burton was a good partner because the church wanted to support one of their neighbors in Manchester and the school’s commitment to education made it a “terrific” choice.
Tashjian said students are very concerned about renewable energy and responsible stewardship of resources. Burr and Burton is just at the foot of Mount Equinox so he expects students will have an opportunity to visit and learn from the hydroelectric site.
This year, Burr and Burton also opened its Mountain Campus, which is powered by solar power.
On its main campus, there are more than 10 buildings, large and small, dedicated directly to education or supporting the school. All of them will now be getting power from a renewable source.
Tashjian said he was also pleased to be able to announce the agreement this week.
“It was a good Earth Day, I can tell you that,” he said.