Andover, New London and Wilmot residents aim to double the number of solar powered homes in their towns
A group of Andover, New London and Wilmot residents is aiming to double the number of solar powered homes in their towns this fall through a project they are calling Solarize Kearsarge.
The volunteer group will pick a solar installer, host a launch session Oct. 18, and over the next 15 weeks, line up site evaluations for residents and help property owners through the solar installation process.
“It makes people aware that solar energy will mean big savings for them,” said Maria Glorioso, a volunteer with Solarize Kearsarge and an Andover resident.
The more residents who sign up to “solarize,” the more the price will go down for everyone, said Sarah Simonds of Vital Communities, a nonprofit coordinating the solarize effort.
“The idea was, ‘If we get a bunch of people in a given local area, couldn’t we get a bargain from an installer who might do all of us at the same time?’ ” Simonds said. “The program makes it easier and more comfortable and more trustworthy for people to get into this solar space.”
The Kearsarge project is not the first that Simonds and Vital Communities have worked on.
The group recently completed “round one” of Solarize Upper Valley, during which 120 homes across the five towns installed solar panels. In that project, roughly 10 percent of the households in the community requested a site visit. From there, about a third actually went solar.
If that model holds true for the Solarize Kearsarge project, the group would hope to solarize about 60 homes, Simonds said.
“The message here is it makes more sense than most of us would assume,” she said.
The price of solar installation has dropped dramatically over the past five years, but has seen little change recently. “It’s always going to be expensive,” she said. “There’s not much more room to drop.”
During Solarize Upper Valley, the average sticker price without any incentives came in about $20,000. But after the 30 percent return in federal taxes and up to $3,750 in rebates from the state, the price drops to roughly $12,000, Simonds said.
“It’s an effort to pull the community together, to help each other out and lower the price and make it more affordable to get solar,” Glorioso said.
(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.)