As we move towards using energy more efficiently and creating it with more secure renewable sources, a problem is that many people do not understand how renewables fit into their life. Solar Hartland is an education program from Transition Town Hartland and Hartland Energy Committee focused on bringing solar down to earth.
The first step has been an information booth at 5 local farmer’s markets and 4 larger regional events. Our interactive display included a blender making “Solar Smoothies”, a comparison display of Incandescent/CFL/LED light bulbs with a watt meter, and a large model of an electric utility meter with the rotor spinning backwards, all powered by a small solar electric system, which was then used for teaching about solar electric systems. After talking to a few hundred people, we are now aware of the issues concerning widespread PV adoption, such as high up front costs, lack of knowledge about siting, load, or cost, and uninformed expectations.
The second step is currently underway with a free solar site analysis for 27 people in town who signed up at the booths. If enough people are interested after their site analysis, we will form a buyer’s group and request bids. We have written a solar site analysis protocol that requires only a compass, calculator, and a year’s worth of electric bills, (it can also be used for off grid systems if the load calculations are done separately). The system size and cost results can be recalculated with different loads, thus encouraging efficient electrical use. Contact us if you live in the Hartland area and would like to be put on the schedule. The protocol is available free for other interested people and town groups to use.
The last step being put together now is a presentation for businesses and local groups about solar electric financial mechanisms and benefits. It will introduce rebates, incentives, tax credits, PACE, the new KWH tariff, group net metering, power purchase agreements, business equipment depreciation, peak rate offsetting, connecting with the smart grid, third party ownership, renewable energy credits, and leasing of packaged systems. If there is interest afterward a Community Supported Energy (CSE) net metering group will be formed, with the goal of installing a community array.
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