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This Stop on the Solar Road Tour: Solar Thermal Makes the Case for Maine Retirement Community

On a crisp Maine October morning, Chris Wasileski of Seacoast Management guided a cameraman through the construction site at their Oceanview at Falmouth:  http://www.oceanviewrc.com/retirement community.  Wasileski, who has overseen a half-dozen solar hot water projects since 2007, explained their commitment to solar: “We have been pursuing renewable energy as part of our smart growth mission for years, but to make it work as a business there needs to be a solid economic case to go with the environmental one.  That’s why we love solar thermal: it offers a sweet spot with great payback and great potential.”

Wasileski’s guest was not the local news but Fred Greenhalgh of ReVision Energy:  http://www.revisionenergy.com, who is directing a new web video series called The Solar Road Tour: http://www.revisionenergy.com/solar-road-tour.php.  This year, inspired by a similar web video series by national solar advocacy group SEIA, Greenhalgh embarked on a road trip across Maine and New Hampshire, where ReVision Energy has installed over 2,500 systems.  He and cameraman Matt Morris stopped at over a dozen sites ranging from brewpubs and retail stores to local libraries and homes.

“The point of these videos was to show that there are people all over the place going solar right now, ordinary people like you and me,” Greenhalgh said.  “I’m consistently impressed by the diversity of solar projects we get to work on – from conscientious homeowners to nonprofits, to businesses who want to do the right thing and save money doing it.”

The day Greenhalgh was filming at Oceanview, ReVision Energy’s crew was in the middle of installing 14 flat plate solar hot water collectors which will provide domestic hot water for the 27-unit expansion of Oceanview at Falmouth’s main lodge.  The closed-loop solar hot water system features 420-gallons of thermal storage, a custom built solar pump station, and variable speed AC pumps, which use a differential temperature controller for optimum efficiency year-round.  Backup is provided through indirect fired boilers. ReVision Energy installed a similar system for Oceanview’s Hilltop Lodge as well as sister retirement community, The Highlands, which also features a 540-evacuated tube system on their Cadigan Lodge, the largest solar hot water array in Maine.

“By having these systems all over our buildings, we’re showing our customers, clients, and staff that we believe in solar energy, and help them to believe in it, too,” Wasileski continued.  “Since the Carter era, the biggest question mark with solar has been whether it is cost feasible, and I believe we’re showing that it is. We look forward to a renewable energy future for everyone.”

Greenhalgh agrees.  “The biggest myth we still hear about solar is that it’s a rich person’s game – people have prices from 10 years ago in their head and haven’t looked at solar again given drops in prices, availability of state and federal rebates, and the staggering increase in cost of traditional energy.  We’re hoping these videos will inspire people to take a serious look at solar and see if it makes sense for them.”

The Solar Road Tour: Season 1 features seven videos available at:  www.revisionenergy.com  and  www.youtube.com/revisionenergy.  SEIA’s “The Solar Generation Road Trip” is available at: www.seia.org/cs/the_solar_generation.

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