Still time to benefit from Solarize Stafford program
By Brenda Sullivan - ReminderNews
Stafford - posted Wed., Dec. 18, 2013
How does an electric bill of $16 a month sound? That’s a potential savings that appealed to a lot of people who attended the Dec. 11 Solarize Stafford presentation at the community center.
It was the second presentation on the program and the turnout was a pleasant surprise, said Gary Fisher, a member of the Stafford Energy Advisory Committee, that worked with town leaders to bring the program to Stafford.
Since the November meeting, more than 40 homeowners have signed contracts, Fisher said. The deadline to register for the program is Jan. 28, 2014.
The Dec. 11 talk was given by Stephan Hartmann of the Danbury-based Ross Solar Group, selected by the town in cooperation with Solarize Connecticut to provide materials and installation service.
Stafford’s program is part of Solarize Connecticut (http://www.SolarizeCT.com/Stafford), whose aim is to substantially reduce the cost of installing solar arrays – which has the dual benefits of lowering energy costs for more Connecticut homeowners and reducing what’s known as the "carbon footprint" for the state – the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) created by activities such as producing energy from oil and gas. Many experts say CO2 contributes to global warming.
These two benefits appealed to a number of residents who decided to sign up for a home visit, including Steven Chickosky. He wants to learn more about installing solar panels on his home, an older farmhouse, he said, "because I’m interested in any way I can lower my energy costs and in going ‘green.’"
Another resident, Nick Wargo, said his neighbor has solar panels, so he came to the talk to learn more about the costs, as well as the technical aspects. "We got a new roof last year, so this would be a good time to do it, if we decide to sign up, but there’s a lot of things we have to weigh," he said.
When a homeowner registers, Ross Solar Group arranges a visit to determine such things as whether the home’s roof is sturdy enough to support the solar panels, and how many panels and in what configuration would generate optimum levels of energy.
They also talk about options such as whether to rent or buy the equipment and special financing available under Solarize Connecticut. Stafford homeowners can take advantage of the program’s reduced costs only between now and the Jan. 28 deadline, Hartmann said.
Costs are linked to how many people sign up. The more participants by deadline, the lower the costs. And everyone, regardless of at what point they sign up, will be assessed at that final tier.
According to the flyer distributed at the meeting, at Tier 5 – the best group rate – a homeowner could pay $11,651 as compared to the market price of $33,322. Currently, Stafford is at Tier 3.
A homeowner also may be eligible for a "no money down" Smart-E loan or a low-down payment CT Solar Loan. The amount saved on the electric bill can soon match the monthly payments, Hartmann said.
He explained that the system doesn’t store power for use later. Instead, electricity generated by the panels is routed through special equipment into the local power company’s "grid," and homeowners are repaid by the power company via a credit on their bills.
Fisher noted that as an added incentive to participate, Ross Solar will donate $50 to the town’s fuel bank for every individual who signs a contract by Jan. 10.
He added that residents have an opportunity to take a "Solar Tour" – including homes in Ashford, Chaplin, Hampton, Pomfret and Stafford that have solar arrays – scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 4. For more information, contact Fisher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-458-9109.
To learn more about the Solarize program, visit http://www.rosssolargroup.com/solarize or call Ross Solar Group at 1-203-512-4500.