Sun Shines Bright On This RI Station – Radio Ink

Eighty-one-year-old Dick Bouchard has been on the radio since 1955. Most of that time has been spent on WNRI, a 2,500-watt AM station in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. In 1983, he formed a company with his brother and two others, and he now owns the station. Bouchard has seen a few sunrises in his career; and today that sun means more than ever to this broadcaster.

Radio Ink: Tell us why you decided to go with solar power?
Bouchard: We applied for and got a $15,000 grant from RI Department of Commerce to help fund the project. Rhode Island collects a tax from rate payers for viable renewable energy projects, so we said, “Why Not?”

Radio Ink: How does it work?
Bouchard: When the sun shines, the 44 solar panels on the roof produce quite a bit of power. It’s a 12,000-watt array. Peak power on a sunny day from the array is a little over 10 kW. A typical sunny day, the array produces over 70 kWh. But not every day is 100% sunshine, and of course, when it’s dark the solar panels do nothing.

Radio Ink: Do you ever have issues with not having enough power? How do you deal with it?
Bouchard: No, we never have enough sun power to run the radio station, what happens is the power we generate spins our digital electric power meter backwards, which in turn reduces our electric bill in kWh, in direct proportion to how much energy our system develops!

Radio Ink: Was it expensive to install?
Bouchard: The entire turnkey system installed cost $54,000. That was about $38,000 net after we received the $15,000 state grant. Each of the owners of the station pitched in the money, after the grant money came in, to purchase the system from RGS Energy. In return the owners also get a Federal Tax break of 30% on our personal tax returns since we are a “Sub S Corporation” for our share of the purchase price.

Radio Ink: Are you saving any money?
Bouchard: Oh yes, our electric bills are running about 30% less. We keep very accurate records; and there is the federal tax advantage as well. By the way, we are about two-and-a-half years into this and there has never been a single problem with the system. Zero maintenance!

Radio Ink: Would you advise other stations to go solar?
Bouchard: Certainly, especially in states like Rhode Island that have such a generous grant program.

You can get in touch with Dick Bouchard at 401.769.6925


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