By Allison E. Rogers Furbish
The results are in, and they’re pretty exciting: 120 homeowners across the Upper Valley are going solar this season, thanks to Solarize Upper Valley, an initiative led by Vital Communities to increase the rate of adoption of solar photovoltaic electricity generation in the region.
Homeowners in the spring 2014 Solarize Upper Valley communities of Thetford and Strafford, Vt., and Cornish, Plainfield, and Lyme, N.H., are adding 638 new kilowatts of renewable electricity generation capacity to the region – a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 116 cars off the road! While the population of these five towns may be small, with only 9,406 residents combined, together their dedicated volunteers and partner installers helped 11 percent of households to get a solar site visit and three percent of households to go solar in just 15 weeks.
“The results of the first round of Solarize Upper Valley surpassed our expectations – not only in the number of households going solar, but also in the commitment of the community volunteers who made the program a success,” said Vital Communities Energy Program Manager Sarah Simonds. “We look forward to helping our fall Solarize communities achieve similar results.”
With generous funding support from the John Merck Fund and an individual donor to Vital Communities, Solarize Upper Valley teams community volunteers with competitively selected solar photovoltaic (PV) installers for 15 weeks of outreach around small-scale solar energy, offering competitive prices, accessible resources, and a simplified process for solar PV installations.
“I know solar would have remained a ‘someday’ for us without all the work provided by [Solarize Upper Valley],” said one Solarize Cornish-Plainfield customer. “You made it possible for our someday to be today.”
The Big Picture
Solarize Upper Valley is part of a larger network of Solarize programs aimed at catalyzing a very public and lasting increase in the number of new residential solar installations across New England and beyond. Solarize programs have been successful in Massachusetts and Connecticut and are now taking root in other parts of the country.
“The exciting results from Vital Communities’ Solarize campaign continue to prove that the ‘Solarize’ community model is perhaps the most effective approach for expanding residential solar,” said Brian F. Keane, president of SmartPower, a leading partner in the broader effort to expand and share the Solarize model. “This model works – whether in Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, or anywhere across the nation.”
Solarize Upper Valley’s next campaign will begin this October in Hanover, Orford, New London, Andover, and Wilmot, New Hampshire, and Woodstock, Pomfret, Randolph, Braintree, and Brookfield, Vermont. Vital Communities is currently seeking solar photovoltaic (PV) installers interested in bidding to work with these communities. Bids will be accepted until September 12 at 5 p.m. For more information visit vitalcommunities.org/solarize.