Communities Work Together to Create More Solar!

By Zach Ralph

All around Vermont individual communities are creating programs and initiatives to help address the potential harmful effects of climate change. Energy Committees are working to provide more transportation, they are working to install efficient lights, to encourage energy efficient homes and renewable energies! The Norwich energy committee is working to bring an electric vehicle charging station to Dan and Whit’s. The Barnard energy committee has replaced the towns lights with efficient lights and recently was approved to create municipal solar on their fire station. These are just a few examples of the work going on around us.

Much can and should be done at the local community level. However, there are other, bigger problems like transportation and energy which require much more complex solutions that individual communities will have a hard time addressing on their own. This gives us all an opportunity to work together to create effective and positive solutions amongst multiple communities and regions.

Sustainable Woodstock worked with volunteers and energy committees in six communities as well as Catamount Solar to create a four month long Solarize 2016 initiative. Residents of six towns; Barnard, Bridgewater, Hartland, Pomfret, Reading, and Woodstock, were eligible to purchase a solar array through Catamount Solar so when more people bought solar, the more the cost of the installation would go down, potentially saving homeowners one thousand dollars or more on a solar installation! The tiered pricing system had five tiers. For every 30kW worth of solar contracts signed, the cost per watt would go down five cents.

With the help of volunteers in all communities we hosted 19 events in all six towns connecting directly with around 200 individuals! With an extensive outreach campaign using social media, local newspapers, Woodstock Magazine, a local tv station, and list servs we were able to educate many people, of the 10,000 population in the area, about solar energy. Starting in April 2016 and going through the end of June 100 individuals requested site visits, of which 70 were completed. 18 homeowners signed contracts with Catamount Solar to create a total of 141.12 kW of new clean solar energy. The contracts got us well into tier 4 saving each homeowner on average $1,166 on the cost of their solar installation, and the whole program saved our communities $20,988 on solar installations.

The program was a success! We created more solar than otherwise would have been created by saving individual homeowners money on the cost of their installation. With all members of the six communities working together we were able to negotiate reduced pricing through bulk sales. It was the combined population of all six towns, with individuals in each participating community signing up for a solar installation, which allowed us to reach Tier 4 and contribute to our final success.

We hope that with the success of this program that this can be an example of how other communities can all work together to achieve goals that they would not have been able to achieve otherwise on their own. Of course, success will not be possible without people willing to volunteer and participate in these programs either. With everyone’s participation in these new projects we hope to discover effective and long term solutions for some of the many problems affecting our state.

Just do one Thing: Work Together

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