Solarize Upper Valley is a program of Vital Communities. It builds on other successful Solarize programs throughout the country, teaming up local communities with solar photovoltaic (PV) installers for 15 weeks of outreach. It is aimed at making solar energy less expensive through a tiered-pricing structure that brings the cost down for all participants as increased numbers of residents sign up. This makes solar power more accessible to residents.
The program’s long-term goals are to double the amount of residential solar energy in each of our partner communities and spark continuing growth in the region’s solar energy market. In this way, benefits may spread outside the participating communities and continue after the Solarize program is completed. The Solarize Upper Valley program demonstrates that the Solarize movement can be effective even in a rural setting and provides an open-source model to be shared with grassroots groups in rural communities everywhere.
Vital Communities coordinated two rounds of the program in fifteen towns in Vermont and New Hampshire between late 2013 and early 2015. The Round Two Report was released in March. It reports that every Solarize Round Two community met or exceeded its goal of doubling the pre-Solarize baseline of residential solar PV installations.
In the two rounds of Solarize Upper Valley, 301 homeowners contracted for solar installations, adding 1.7 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy to the region. Installing this much residential solar is an amazing accomplishment, and this is just the upper valley in VT and NH. In addition, dozens of other homeowners in partner communities were also inspired by Solarize to go solar with their own installers.
Three of the five Round Two communities had enough participation to reach their lowest pricingtiers. Homeowners in all communities saved between 15¢ and 40¢ per watt from the base price at the beginning of the program.
Solarize Upper Valley will continue to do its work. Round Three will launch in June, 2015.
For more information about Solarize Upper Valley call Sarah Simonds at (802) 291-9100 x 109 or visit their website atVitalCommunities.org/Solarize.