181 Solar Contracts & Solarize Round Three

Solarize Upper Valley Round Two wrapped up on January 31 with 181 homeowners signing contracts to go solar this year – a total of 1,086 kilowatts of new renewable power in the region! What’s more, every community at least doubled its number of solar homes.

(NOTE: when this was posted on February 4, there were 178 homes going solar – since then we’ve added three more!)

Congratulations and thanks to the dedicated volunteers and partner installers who made the program a success.

Solarize Upper Valley Round Three launches publicly in June. We’ll host an Info Session for Communities from 5:30 to 7 pm on Thursday, February 19, at the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, Vermont. Check our calendar or email Sarah@VitalCommunities.org to learn more.

8th Annual Upper Valley Energy Committee Roundtable

Our annual Roundtable is one of the highlights of my year. Free dinner, good friends, and people from all corners of our region who care about local energy. Is there anything better?

This year’s annual Upper Valley Energy Committee Roundtable will take place Tuesday, April 28, 5 to 8 pm in the Porter Community Room at the Montshire Museum in Norwich, Vermont. The change of location this year is due to the growing interest in and attendance at this great event.

The Roundtable is intended to assist existing Upper Valley energy committees in carrying out their work by sharing information and providing networking opportunities, and to help those interested in forming new energy committees. The Roundtable is free, and a light buffet dinner will be provided. We’ll be posting a full agenda and accepting RSVPs soon, so stay tuned!

You can find lots of great resources from past Roundtable events online:

Solarize on WCAX

Did you see the recent story about Solarize Upper Valley on WCAX? We’re excited to be sharing the news about this program far and wide!

WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

There’s still time to get your contract signed before the January 31 deadline! Sign up for your free site visit today if you live in Randolph, Brookfield, Braintree, Woodstock, or Pomfret, Vermont; or Orford, Hanover, Andover, New London, or Wilmot, New Hampshire. And visit VitalCommunities.org/Solarize to learn how to get involved in Round Three in the spring.

Congrats to our Volunteer of the Year!

Plainfield Resident Named Vital Communities’ Volunteer of the Year

Nancy Mogielnicki was honored earlier this month as Vital Communities’ 2014 Volunteer of the Year.

“Nancy has been a phenomenal volunteer for Vital Communities not only this year but for many,” said Energy Program Manager Sarah Simonds. “As a key volunteer for the Solarize Cornish-Plainfield initiative last spring, Nancy helped more than 20 homeowners go solar in her community. She also represents Plainfield as an active member of our Upper Valley Transportation Management Association Steering Committee, and has been an enthusiastic supporter of many Vital Communities projects.”

Nancy received her award at the annual Vital Communities Open House. This is the organization’s third annual Volunteer of the Year Award, which last year honored Lyme, N.H., resident Carola Lea and in 2012 recognized Nancy and George Smith of Hartland, Vt.

“Vital Communities projects are appealing for several reasons, including the fact that they are regional in nature and that they address a wide range of ‘sustainability’ issues – the things that make communities vital,” said Nancy, who has lived in the Upper Valley since 1977 and also volunteers for the Plainfield Energy Committee. “There is something for everyone among Vital Communities’ offerings, and they make it really easy to be an effective volunteer.”


0% – 1.99% Energy Project Financing!

Efficiency Vermont just announced that it’s easier than ever for Vermonters to finance home energy projects through their PACE program – Property Assessed Clean Energy. And yes, they ARE offering interest rates as low as 0%.

PACE is a clever new way of financing home energy projects by placing a lien on your property. So if you ever move, the loan stays with your home. PACE financing is available to all residents of Vermont towns that have adopted it, including Bradford, Cavendish, Hartford, Hartland, Norwich, Randolph, Sharon, Strafford, Thetford, Vershire, Weathersfield, and Woodstock.

There are several PACE forums scheduled around the Valley this winter. All are free and open to the public, and co-sponsored by Vital Communities, the Sustainable Energy Resource Group, and the Upper Valley Sierra Club.

  • December 11, 2014, Montshire Museum of Science, Norwich, 6:30 pm             Date has changed from December 9th to December 11th due to weather!!
  • December 10, 2014, Hartland Library, Hartland, 6:30 pm
  • January 20, 2015, Thetford Center Community Center, Thetford, 6:30 pm
  • February 25, 2015, Bugbee Senior Center, White River Jct., 6:30 pm               Date has changed from February 11th to February 25th!!

Efficiency Vermont, the organization coordinating the PACE program in Vermont, recently announced new, lower interest rates for qualified homeowners.

Are you a family of four? If your annual income is less than $95,000 you could qualify for a loan at 1.99% interest. Less than $79,000 and it’s 0.99%. Less than $63,000 and the loan is 0% interest. Check the full chart on income qualification to see whether your household could qualify.

Improvements that can be financed through these low rates include energy audits, weatherization measures, cold climate heat pumps, high-efficiency oil, propane, and wood pellet central heating systems, heat pump water heaters, and solar hot water heaters. Renewable electric generation systems can also be financed through PACE at the usual program rate of 6.5%.

Financing these measures through PACE often results in homeowners saving more on energy costs than they are paying for the improvements, so they save energy and money from day one. Your energy efficiency utility, Efficiency Vermont, will conduct a free analysis of your project plan to let you know how cost effective your project is and assist you through the PACE process. Other PACE advantages include no credit score check, no closing costs, and no down payment required.

Want to talk with someone about PACE? Come to one of the upcoming forums or…

Solarize Launch Events Draw 600

Solar is contagious. No, really! There’s a new study to prove it! As you can read in this article from the Washington Post, it turns out that having neighbors with solar is a stronger influence on other homes going solar than almost any other factor, even income level.

And if solar is contagious, we’re well on our way to an epidemic here in the Upper Valley.

Our recent Solarize Upper Valley Round Two launch events drew nearly 600 attendees and generated 350 site visit requests in the first week. It’s going to be a busy season for the partner installers in our five Solarize communities!

Solarize Hanover 
Energy Emporium

Solarize Kearsarge (Andover, New London, Wilmot)
ReVision Energy

Solarize Orford 
Milhouse Enterprises

Solarize Pomfret-Woodstock 
Catamount Solar and Integrity Energy

Solarize Randolph-Brookfield-Braintree 
Catamount Solar and Integrity Energy

Visit our website to learn more, find Solarize events in your community, and sign up for a free site visit.

We’ll begin recruiting communities and installers in early 2015 to participate in Round Three – sign up for our monthly emails or contact Energy Program Manager Sarah Simonds if you think your community might be interested in getting involved.


Solarize Launches in 10 Towns

Vital Communities and volunteers in 10 towns will launch Solarize Upper Valley campaigns in October. Hanover, Orford, Andover, New London, and Wilmot, New Hampshire, and Pomfret, Woodstock, Randolph, Brookfield, and Braintree, Vermont, are participating in the second round of Solarize Upper Valley this fall and winter.

Attend a Launch Event

Interested residents and business owners are encouraged to attend the October launch events to learn more about the program, meet their community’s partner installer, and talk with neighbors interested in going solar.

Solarize Upper Valley Launch Events

Open houses and other events scheduled throughout the fall and winter will help residents learn more about the process, costs, and benefits of going solar. Learn more at here.

Solarize Upper Valley teams up 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. The first round of Solarize Upper Valley (March through June 2014) resulted in 120 new solar homes, adding 638 kilowatts of renewable energy capacity to the region.

Solarize is Recruiting!

Solarize Upper Valley is recruiting! We’re looking for communities and installers to partner with us on Round Two of Solarize this fall. Join us next month to learn more:

Info Session for Communities
Thursday, June 12th, 5:30 – 7:00pm
Montshire Museum, Norwich, VT

Info Session for Installers
Tuesday, June 24th, 7:30 – 9:00am
Kilton Library, West Lebanon, NH
RSVP to Sarah@VitalCommunities.org

If you aren’t yet receiving our monthly email updates, sign up now: We’ll send out the Round Two requests for proposals (RFPs) from communities and installers in June.

Final Month of Solarize Upper Valley Round One
Our June 30th deadline is fast approaching, and our Round One communities – Thetford-Strafford, Cornish-Plainfield, and Lyme – are making great progress. So far, residents have:

  • Requested 337 site visits from partner installers Catamount Solar/Integrity Energy, Solar Source, and RGS Energy
  • Signed 43 contracts to go solar
  • Added 189kW of new solar PV capacity to the Upper Valley!

Several Solarize installations are already complete or under way. The home you see in the image above belongs to Jan and Keith Fifield of Strafford. “What an exciting time for us,” Keith told us when we reached out to see how the install was going. “We’ve just become our own power company!

If you’re an interested homeowner in a current Solarize community and have not yet signed up for a free site visit, now’s the time! It’s easy to do at VitalCommunities.org/Solarize. Contracts must be signed by June 30 to take advantage of the special Solarize pricing – and remember, as more people sign on, the price goes down for everyone!

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