Home tour promotes solar option

By Annie Gentile - ReminderNews
Regional - posted Wed., Jan. 8, 2014
‘Solar ambassador’ David Dreibholz, of Stafford, learned that the footprint of his home allowed for a 6kW solar energy system.  A total of 25 panels were installed in 2012 on both his barn and his home, and he says he is netting a 63-percent savings over a 12-month period on his electric bill. Photos by Annie Gentile.
‘Solar ambassador’ David Dreibholz, of Stafford, learned that the footprint of his home allowed for a 6kW solar energy system. A total of 25 panels were installed in 2012 on both his barn and his home, and he says he is netting a 63-percent savings over a 12-month period on his electric bill. Photos by Annie Gentile.

There are easily dozens of companies in the marketplace that sell and install solar panels, but sometimes the best sales pitch can come from neighbors and friends in the community who have taken the plunge into alternative energy.

These “solar ambassadors” can speak with experience about the process from beginning to end and, perhaps most importantly, can provide first-hand knowledge about what kind of savings you can expect to find on your monthly electrical bill.

On Saturday, Jan. 4, residents from Ashford, Chaplin, Hampton, Pomfret and Stafford had the opportunity to visit homes with solar installations and ask the homeowners any questions they might have about the benefits of going solar. The tour was part of the Solarize Connecticut programs being offered in the five towns, with all installations being performed by one competitively-chosen installer, the Ross Solar Group.

Solarize Connecticut was created through a partnership between the quasi-government agency the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority, the John Merck Fund, the Putnam Foundation, and SmartPower, a non-profit agency. The goal of the partnership is to help make clean energy options both simple and affordable through the use of financing, policy and marketing strategies.

Residents in the five towns can sign up for a free, no-obligation home evaluation and installation quote, and can take advantage of rebates and financial incentives as well as bulk pricing where, as more residents sign contracts, the price becomes lower. Solar customers are also able to select from a variety of financing options.

“I went with a 15-year lease program about three and a half years ago,” said Sue Harkness of Ashford, whose home was included on the tour. She said she had four visits on the day of the tour. “A couple of women came who had already signed a contract for solar, but they just wanted to see what the installation looked like,” she said.

As a member of the town’s Clean Energy Task Force, Harkness said her decision was an environmental one, but also a complete “no-brainer.” “It saves you money from the get-go. If you have an electric bill, then you are going to save money with solar,” she said, adding that at age 76 she expects that whoever owns her home down the road will continue to benefit from her investment.

Harkness emphasized, however, that if you are a resident of Ashford, Chaplin, Hampton, or Pomfret, then it is imperative you sign a Solarize CT contract with Ross Solar before the Feb. 11 deadline. (In Stafford, the deadline is even earlier - Tuesday, Jan. 28). “The rebates are huge and you don’t want to miss out on that,” she said.

David Dreibholz, of Stafford, whose 25-panel, 6kW roof mount system on his home and barn was also on the tour, had similar praise for his solar installation. “I had the system installed in 2012 and I’ve had a very good experience,” he said.

“It’s net metering, so I’m constantly generating a credit to my electric bill,” said Driebholz. He explained that his system generates 200 percent of his electricity in the summer months, when he pays just the minimum connection fee to the electric company, and then there is less generation in the winter. “Overall, I find I am netting a 63-percent savings on my electric bill over the course of 12 months,” he said.

To sign up for a free, no-obligation site evaluation, and to take advantage of the special tiered pricing, visit Solarizect.com/Stafford or SolarizeCT.com/Ashford,  or visit RossSolarGroup.com/solarize.


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