Here Comes the Sun!- Solarize 2016

By Zachariah Ralph

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Before Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carlson, and before modern-day climate change advocates like Bill McKibben, there was George Perkins Marsh, the father of the modern environmental movement who was born right here in Woodstock. Marsh’s landmark book, Man and Nature, published 150 years ago, addresses issues ranging from watershed pollution, loss of forests, the imbalance of invasive species and the consequences of human-induced climate change.

Following in the footsteps of George Perkins Marsh, Sustainable Woodstock, a not-for-profit organization founded in 2009, builds on Woodstock’s legacy as the birthplace of the modern conservation movement in its vision of a vibrant, inclusive, thriving community where we live sustainably, now and in the future. With a mission is to inspire, educate and empower everyone to live environmentally, economically and socially responsible lives, Sustainable Woodstock works to reduce Woodstock’s carbon footprint by encouraging more recycling, promoting more local food systems, exploring transportations options, and reducing energy consumption as well as switching to renewable energy like solar.

In the fall of 2014 the Sustainable Woodstock Energy Group joined with Pomfret to participate in the Solarize Upper Valley program. Solarize is an initiative that reduces the costs of going solar through collective purchasing. The local team competitively selected a partner solar installer to offer homeowners good value and competitive pricing. Between October 2014 and January 2015, 25 Woodstock and Pomfret households signed up to install solar and over 170 kWh of new clean solar energy was created.

These new residential arrays join other Woodstock projects including an array at Rivendell Stables built in 1999 as one of the first solar installations in the Upper Valley. At Woodstock Union High School data from the solar array installed as part of the Solar in Schools Initiative is incorporated into science and math lesson plans. The Shire Woodstock hotel is a designated Green Hotel with roof-mounted solar panels and a wonderful example how solar can fit the aesthetics of the village. Woodstock Aqueduct Company has invested in solar with an array of trackers that can be seen following the sun along Route 12 north of the village.

Sustainable Woodstock will be continuing its efforts to bring more renewable energy into the area by launching another round of Solarize in 2016. Starting in March and going through June of this year, residents in including Barnard, Bridgewater, Hartland, Pomfret, Reading, and Woodstock will be encouraged to have a free site visit of their home to see if they are good candidates to start producing their own solar energy. Community events throughout the campaign will include Solar Driving Tours, Solar Open Houses, information sessions on Heat Pumps, Tesla Batteries etc. Through the tiered pricing system, as more residents go solar, the cost goes down for all participants.

Sustainable Woodstock also is exploring creating a Woodstock area community solar array as an alternative option for residents who do not have good sites for solar, and as part of Solarize 2016, the Energy Group will have a list of community solar options available so everyone can go solar.

The launch event for Solarize 2016 will be on Tuesday March 1st at 7:00Pm at the Norman Williams Public Library.  Everyone from the communities participating in this initiative are welcome to come learn how to get involved with Solarize, meet the selected installer, Catamount Solar, and sign up for a free site visit.

Do Just One Thing: Spread the word about Solarize 2016!

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