By George Harvey
As usual, Brattleboro, Vermont, is doing things a little differently. Brattleboro Solar Summer is in most ways similar to the Solarize programs seen elsewhere, but with a twist. In most Solarize programs, there is a single installer. In some there is a different installer for each type of installation. Putney, for example, had different installers for home-based photovoltaic systems, a community solar garden, and solar thermal water systems. In Brattleboro, there are five installers, giving the residents of the community choices.
The program is the product of the town’s Climate Protection Committee and the Energy Committee. It was launched on May 1, and it will continue until September 30. The goal of the program is to get a hundred new installations in Brattleboro.
All five installers will do home and business systems, including installations at multi-unit buildings. This is true whether the system is ground-mounted or roof-mounted. In addition, three of the installers will do community solar systems for people without good solar sites of their own.
When a lot of people have solar systems installed at the same time, there is an advantage in the combination of purchasing power. So there will be discounts for the customers depending on how many people participate. The discounts will range from $50 to $200 per kilowatt.
The program has financing available through the Vermont State Employees Credit Union. There is also financing through the Windham County Solar Loan Program, and this has special rates that will only last until the money in the program runs out. Depending on circumstances, the rates will range from 0% to 5%. The financing is calculated so Brattleboro Solar Summer participants should be able to see reduced costs from the start.
The 30% federal tax credit for the cost of solar installations is available for the program. Anyone who is thinking of putting a switch to solar power off should consider that the credits end in 2016.
Paul Cameron, Brattleboro’s Energy Coordinator, said, “There has never been a better time to go solar because the price of solar has dropped 50% in the past two to three years.” In addition, he pointed out that this program makes purchase now especially attractive, and quite possibly better than waiting for the price to drop further.
Two of the installers in the program will do home and business systems only. They are:
- Gary MacArthur Solar, Marlboro, Vermont, 802-257-7026
- Solar Source: Keene, New Hampshire 603-352-4232
The other three will do home and business systems, but also have community solar available. They are:
- Integrated Solar, Brattleboro, Vermont 802-257-7493
- Soveren Solar, Putney, Vermont 802-869-2500
- Sunnyside Solar Store, Brattleboro, Vermont 802-376-3838
The first step for those interested in participating is to arrange for a site evaluation, which is free.
The web site of the Brattleboro Solar Summer is www.brattleborosolarsummer.org. Paul Cameron can be contacted at 802-251-8135.