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Jun 26, 2015 3:20 PM

Isles of Shoals Star Island celebrates centennial with star power


PORTSMOUTH - The Isles of Shoals Star Island is home to New England's largest off-grid solar array.

This season marks the first for generating the island's electricity. No doubt, cod fishermen who populated Gosport Village in the 1800's, would be shocked to see the space-age looking panels harnessing the sun's energy today.

Jack Farrell, who works as the facilities manager for the island, says the solar project has been under design and construction since 2011.

"On a good day like this, we're producing more energy than we can use," Farrell said.

Currently the solar project is producing enough electricity to sustain the island's needs with its 600 daily visitors.

The island is owned by the non-profit Star Island Corporation. Though it's roots are in the Unitarian Universalist and United Church of Christ faiths, the conferences and retreats are designed for the general public.

Ferry boats can be accessed in Portsmouth and Rye Harbor.

As the Star Island Corporation celebrates its centennial this year, it's CEO, Joe Watts calls it the perfect time to celebrate the island's rich history while looking ahead to the next 100 years.

"We feel we are the stewards of a New Hampshire treasure. We're always trying to show what the world could be," said Watts.

He says their goal is to be a model of sustainability for future generations. They've managed to reduce trash by 40%. In addition to their own solar array providing energy, they've also built state of the art technology that turns saltwater into fresh water and works in tandem with the state's first and only approved rainwater filtration system.

The public is invited to visit the island on Saturday to celebrate the centennial.

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