Solarize Hanover has launched its 2020 campaign with a toolkit of online events in place of their usual in-person open house gatherings. This is year two of Sustainable Hanover’s three-year campaign to double the number of residential solar systems in town. Community-wide, Hanover residents, the Town and Dartmouth College have installed more than three megawatts of solar capacity which would generate sufficient electricity on average to power 570 homes.
As expected, the campaign is experiencing a slower response rate than in prior years because of the enormous uncertainties created by the pandemic. As of mid-August, sign-ups averaged one per day, fewer than half the number from the 2019 campaign. But Sustainable Hanover Co-Chair Marjorie Rogalski notes, “People are still concerned about our climate future, and we’re happy to be here for those who are able to do something about it.”
The campaign team decided to forego raffles and prizes for incentives that help those facing economic hardship during the pandemic. For every site or community solar evaluation completed, Sustainable Hanover is donating a meal to the LISTEN Community Meals Program. For every completed installation, the Solar Hanover partners will donate a portion of the sale to the solar fund for Hanover’s affordable senior housing apartments on Summer Street.New for 2020, Solarize Hanover is offering community solar as an option for those who cannot install rooftop or ground-mounted systems where they live. Norwich Solar Technologies developed the community solar option based on a new rule allowing on-bill credits for group net metering. This project is located in Charlestown, NH.
The other installer partners are ReVision Energy for rooftop and fixed ground-mounted systems, and Solaflect Energy for sun-tracking ground-mounted models.
Solarize Hanover is reaching out online with a Virtual Open House (https://www.hanovernh.org/2020_open_house.pdf) which presents videos with local solar owners speaking candidly about their solar experience. Cost savings, system reliability (“no drama”), fighting climate change, protecting the environment, and setting an example for the next generation are some of the themes they express. Solarize has also created a Google Earth map (https://www.google.com/maps/HanoverNH-Solarize) for users to see where 180 solar systems are located, quietly producing electricity throughout the Hanover community.
Solarize Hanover also hosted a webinar headlined by Dartmouth climate scientist Erich Osterberg. Professor Osterberg’s research includes compelling data on the impact of climate change on our bi-state region. Town Manager Julia Griffin described the solar systems the Town has installed for its facilities and those currently in development to achieve 100% solar-generated electricity for Town operations by 2021. The recording from this August 26 webinar is posted at www.hanovernh.org/solarize.
Solarize 2020 will remain open through September. Hanover residents are invited to sign up at www.hanovernh.org/solarize to see if 2020 is their year to go solar. Both on-site systems and community solar shares completed in 2020 are eligible for the 26% Federal tax credit. The credit is scheduled to drop to 22% in 2021. Financing is available through general equity loans or through a custom solar loan such as those from Mascoma Bank which is tailored to work with the tax credit timing.
Yolanda Baumgartner is a co-chair for the Sustainable Hanover program.