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Solarize Newtown Campaign Expects Success

With a deadline set for February 11, members of the campaign to bring solar power to Newtown say they have reached the fourth of five pricing tiers and are expecting success in the final phase of the experiment to recruit residents to sign up for solar panels in their home.

"It seems people are very excited about the program,” said Solarize Newtown outreach manager Erin O’Sullivan. Since September, the group has been making pitches to convince Newtown residents to sign up for solar energy as part of a statewide partnership between solar energy providers Astrum Solar and CEFIA (the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority.)

The more residents who sign up for the program — up to 100 — result in lower prices across the board for participants. Federal and state incentives for signing are set to end Feb. 11, a move campaigners say encourages residents to sign up quickly.

"Every family that elects to install a solar electric system in their home helps to diversify the energy mix for the town, the state and the country,” said First Selectman Pat Llodra, who has championed the program and spoke at its initial pitch session in September. "The more we balance our sources of energy, the more we create a sustainable environment for ourselves, for our children and for all those who will come after. "I am confident we will reach Tier 5 pricing, the lowest pricing available for our residents."

Increasing energy costs from CL&P are one motivating factor for Newtown homeowners, O’Sullivan said.

"It’s making solar a lot more appealing,” she said. "We’re seeing a lot more people consider it."

Almost 200 people have asked for solar home inquiries so far, O’Sullivan says. Those who do receive an initial site visit in which Astrum Solar workers examine their house and roof and offer an initial price quote. Advocates say solar power can add value to homes and save tens of thousands of dollars in energy costs. About 40 families in Newtown already use solar power, according to Llodra.

Astrum Solar pledged to donate $25,000 worth of solar panels to a Newtown municipal building, likely the upcoming Sandy Hook Elementary School, if the town reaches 100 customers.

The final Solarize Newtown workshop is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21 at the Sandy Hook Firehouse.
philip palilla January 16, 2014 at 07:19 AM
I believe I'll wait....The system you install today will be antiquated before you know it. I also don't think the town should be pushing the idea to reap the 25K.
John Boccuzzi Jr. January 16, 2014 at 08:17 AM
I just signed up. Excited about no longer having an electric bill.
Jon Miller January 16, 2014 at 08:27 AM
Were signed up, it nothing else you are helping pay for about 1/2 of ours. While the prices are going to continue to fall, the technology has not gotten a whole lot more efficient in the last 10 years or so. We will be generating more than 100% of our electricity.
Thomas Crafts January 16, 2014 at 08:33 AM
When it works,, nobody will need an incentive.
Will Wilkin January 16, 2014 at 09:10 AM
If you want to go solar with virtually all US-made materials, call Made In USA Solar LLC in Oxford!
Jon Miller January 16, 2014 at 09:21 AM
Our panels are Canadian but everything else US
Mark Sievel January 16, 2014 at 09:55 AM
I don't think it is wise to wait. This technology is already mature. It is like waiting to buy a car because next year there will be new models, even though you need a new car now. The longer you wait to install solar, the more money you will spend on electricity. About the comment about not liking the fact that the town (Newtown Sustainable Energy Commission) is supporting this. The commission is doing this because it is good for the environment. It is also good for the integrity of the grid to diversify sources of power. It is also good for the country to reduce our dependence of imports of fossile fuels. It is also good for the consumer to reduce and stabalize the cost of energy.
Paul Alexander January 16, 2014 at 01:51 PM
You have to wonder...if this makes sense economically for residential power generation at the latitude of Connecticut, and with the lower percentage of sunny days in CT, then you'd expect EVERY single home in lower latitude states with a larger percentage of sunny days to have a solar system. And that is not the case. The unsubsidized economics don’t work in Florida unless you accept a VERY long amortization period that probably exceeds the useful life of the majority of the systems components. Even the subsidized economics have a long amortization period.
Paul Alexander January 16, 2014 at 01:53 PM
...then again...we're not paying CL&P's outrageous rates either...
Will Wilkin January 16, 2014 at 04:33 PM
Wikipedia has an interesting article entitled "Energy Subsidies" that quantifies the government subsidies to various energy types from World War 2 until present. For a longer view, try the study "What Would Jefferson Do?" by Nancy Pfund and Ben Healey, which documents that "federal incentives for early fossil fuel production and the nascent nuclear industry were much more robust than the support provided to renewables today." Click here: http://i.bnet.com/blogs/dbl_energy_subsidies_paper.pdf
Tony Mann January 17, 2014 at 07:07 AM
@ Paul!!! Businesses are leaving CT in record numbers. One of the reasons it utility costs. Electric costs heads the way and decisions to flee this state along with it's tax base and all the other taxes involved in doing business in this state. Our electric costs are one of the highest on the planet!!
Thomas Crafts January 17, 2014 at 07:52 AM
The utility has configured its revenues to negate any advantage from any alternative to them, competitors or alternatives. Most of their charge now is for delivery, less for the number of Kilowatts. They can take that relationship anywhere they want, and then selling back to the utility goes lower. The monopoly always wins.
Mark Sievel January 17, 2014 at 08:19 AM
About subsidies and the cost of electricity: Yes it is true that a portion of everyone's electric bill goes to support this program. Electricity consumption is rising. To meet rising demand, additional generation is necessary. If the industry could build a coal-fired generation facility, like the PSE&G (formerly UI) plant in Bridgeport, indirectly a portion of everyone's electric bill would pay for it. I don't know anyone who would want a power plant in Newtown. Everyone who goes solar not only helps them self, but they also help everyone else who is connected to the grid. When you crank up that air conditioner on a sunny day, solar energy from your neighbor may be helping to cool your home.
Will Wilkin January 17, 2014 at 08:34 AM
Hello Thomas, regarding the configuration of electric rates by the utilities, it doesn't actually matter how they line-item the bill because with solar photovoltaics (PV) you are net-metered, meaning the meter spins backwards when your PV produces more than you are using and it spins forward when you are consuming more than you are producing. So long as the PV system is sized just under 100% annual use, every kilowatt hour produced by the system saves the system owner the full retail price of that output.
Paul Alexander January 17, 2014 at 10:47 AM
From the DOE Database for State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency……………… ……………http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/incentive.cfm?Incentive_Code=CT01R&re=1&ee=1…………… “There is no stated limit on the aggregate capacity of net-metered systems in a utility's service territory. Any net excess generation (NEG) during a monthly billing period is carried over to the following month as a kilowatt-hour (kWh) credit for one year. At the end of the year (March 31), the utility pays the customer for any remaining NEG at the "avoided cost of wholesale power." (See specific utility rate tariffs for details).”………… Solar is economically viable at the micro level (sailboat) and the macro level (factory). I still don’t believe solar is economically viable yet at the residential level, especially in high latitude states like CT, but if enough early adapters do it that might be enough to get CL&P to lower their rates, which will of course remove much of the solar incentive. This will be interesting to watch unfold.
Will Wilkin January 17, 2014 at 05:34 PM
Hi Paul, If you've got sun all day, give me a call at 203-893-7306 and my company Made In USA Solar LLC will survey your site and bring you back a Project Proposal that, if you do indeed have sun all day, will pay you back over its power-warrantied service life, tens of thousands more dollars than it costs you. Our proposal will include all the numbers, electrical and financial, and all the brand information to show we do it virtually all US-made.

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