Solar Today and Tomorrow

Are you thinking about solar energy for your home, business, or community? Don’t miss this chance to attend “Solar Today and Tomorrow,” a presentation by expert Steven Strong about leading edge solar projects he has worked on, and current work on community Solar Gardens. The presentation takes place Friday, April 18, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Montshire Museum of Science Porter Community Room in Norwich.

Steven is a principal of Solar Design Associates in Harvard, Massachusetts, and has been designing and building solar installations since 1974. Projects have included The White House, university buildings for UMass, Oregon, Oberlin, and Saudi Arabia, the San Francisco Giants stadium and the Atlanta Olympics Natatorium, the UN, the Giant Solar Cube in California, many smaller buildings in the Boston area, as well as the Tin Mountain Conservation Center and the 21st Century Net Zero Farmstead in our region.

His last project was the solar for the Bullitt Center in Seattle, which is now being certified as the “Greenest Commercial Building in the World” as part of the Living Building Challenge. He is currently working on the community Solar Gardens in Harvard.

Steven is the “Solar Energy Expert” for the NOVA public television series. Bring your questions!

Sponsored by the Upper Valley Sierra Club, free and open to all, refreshments will be provided.

Solar Decision Tree

We thought we’d share a story and resource from our partners at VECAN (Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network) and Waterbury LEAP (Local Energy Action Partnership). ENJOY!

Solar Decision Tree to Help You Go Solar!

There has been tremendous solar growth in Vermont recently, with 100 percent of new electricity coming online from solar in 2013 − which explains why the state has taken the top spot for solar jobs per capita in the U.S. Much of this growth is a result of communities taking action across the state, helping to chart the course, streamline the process, and share their experiences.

Waterbury LEAP has been working hard on solar, having doubled their residential solar capacity last year while also spearheading solar projects in town and at the local schools. Through their experience, they’ve created a handy resource for others interested in going solar. Whether you want solar photovoltaics or solar hot water on your home or business, or are interested in hosting a solar array on your property, the Solar Decision Tree can help you quickly navigate the process of going solar. Thanks to Waterbury LEAP for their great work and sharing this excellent resource with all.

Click here to download this one-page Solar Decision Tree.

NHPR Features Solarize

Solarize Upper Valley is off to a roaring start after very successful public launch events in all three of our participating communities − Thetford-StraffordCornish-Plainfield, and Lyme. We saw more than 250 interested residents at the events, with more than 100 homeowners signing up for site visits from partner installers Catamount Solar, Solar Source, and RGS Energy. Not bad for launching the program over just the past two weeks! Homeowners have until June 30 to sign contracts and take advantage of special Solarize pricing.

Listen to New Hampshire Public Radio’s coverage of the Solarize Cornish-Plainfield launch, learn more about the program on our website, and sign up for emails to stay in the loop – we’ll be recruiting new communities this spring and summer!


Local Energy Solutions Conference

YOU can help REDUCE energy costs and SAVE taxpayer dollars!

Join 250 participants – including local energy committee members, municipal and school officials, businesses, legislators, community volunteers, and exhibitors – at the 6th Annual Local Energy Solutions Conference (LES), New Hampshire’s premier conference dedicated to achieving local and municipal energy successes.

Organized by the NH Local Energy Work Group, the LES will be held Saturday, April 12, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Winnisquam Regional High School in Tilton, NH. Learn about choosing the right energy projects for your town, financing energy projects, engaging community members, and more. Community energy advocate and pioneer Lynn Benander of Co-op Power will deliver the keynote address: “Putting the Local Back in Local Energy.” Vital Communities Energy Program Manager Sarah Simonds will lead a panel about opportunities for solar energy in New Hampshire.

Get more information and register as an attendee or vendor online.

110 Attend Solarize Launch

The first launch event for Solarize Upper Valley was a huge success, with more than 100 interested community members attending the Solarize Thetford-Strafford launch on March 9. More than 30 residents signed up for free site visits from the communities’ partner installer team, Catamount Solar and Integrity Energy. Thetford and Strafford are clearly ready to go solar this spring!

Ready for your turn? If you live in Cornish, Plainfield, or Lyme, we hope you’ll attend the upcoming Solarize launch in your community!

Solarize Cornish-Plainfield Launch: Tuesday, March 18, 7-8pm, Plainfield Town Hall

Solarize Lyme Launch: Wednesday, March 19, 7-8pm, Lyme School cafeteria

If you don’t live in one of these communities, don’t despair: We’ll be recruiting communities this spring for the fall round of Solarize. Learn how to get your community involved, and sign up for our email updates to stay in the loop!

Solarize in the Valley News

We’re excited to see Solarize Upper Valley in the Valley News as we prepare to launch publicly this month. Thanks to reporter Nora Doyle-Burr – and congratulations on your first assignment in your new role!

Read the Valley News story here, and learn more about Solarize Upper Valley.

Vital Communities Launches Solarize Upper Valley

Vital Communities this month is publicly launching Solarize Upper Valley, a new two-year initiative to make residential solar energy more accessible to homeowners in the Upper Valley. Volunteers, town leaders, and homeowners from five towns on both sides of the Connecticut River – Cornish, Plainfield, Lyme, Thetford, and Strafford – are participating in the initial phase of Solarize Upper Valley this spring.

“We’re excited about the potential of Solarize Upper Valley to increase adoption of renewable energy in the region by simplifying the process of ‘going solar,’” said Sarah Simonds, Energy Program manager for Vital Communities. “This program will take us further toward our goal of meeting 90 percent of the Upper Valley’s energy needs through energy efficiency and renewable energy sources by 2050.”

With support from the John Merck Fund, Vital Communities is partnering with SmartPower and the Sustainable Energy Resource Group to refine a program that has already proven successful in Connecticut and Massachusetts. The partners would like to see Solarize Upper Valley serve as a pilot for adapting the Solarize model for communities in Northern New England.

Solarize Upper Valley is a program through which communities team up with competitively selected solar photovoltaic (PV) installers for fifteen weeks of outreach and education around residential solar energy with support from Vital Communities and dedicated local volunteers. Solarize delivers competitive prices, accessible resources, and a simplified process for residential solar PV installations by partnering installers and communities to energize and streamline the public outreach and education process.

The five towns involved in Solarize Upper Valley this spring have formed into three “communities” to take advantage of economies of scale. Those communities will host public launch events in the next several weeks. Interested residents are strongly encouraged to attend, learn more about the program, and meet their community’s installer. Solarize launch events this month:

Solarize Thetford-Strafford March 9, 6:30 PM Thetford Hill Congregational Church
Solarize Cornish-Plainfield March 18, 7:00 PM Plainfield Town Hall
Solarize Lyme March 19, 7:00 PM Lyme School Cafeteria

These launch events will be followed by open houses and workshops with installers to help local residents understand the costs and benefits of residential solar power. As more residents sign up to go solar, the price goes down for everyone. The deadline for residential sign-ups is June 30, 2014.

A similar campaign, Solarize Norwich, is running concurrently but is independent of Solarize Upper Valley.

Vital Communities plans to implement three additional rounds of Solarize Upper Valley in the next two years, with about four communities participating in each round. For more information, visit

Community Energy & Climate Action Conference 12/7

The annual “Community Energy and Climate Action Conference” is coming up on Saturday, December 7th. If you care about helping Vermont take bold action on climate and clean energy, you don’t want to miss it!

The daylong event takes place at the Lake Morey Inn in Fairlee and the focus this year is on better aligning the goals of a broad range of key constituencies to tackle the challenge of climate change. Vermont has set an ambitious state goal to meet 90 percent of our energy needs in 2050 with renewable energy. This goal is an imperative for the planet and people’s pocketbooks. To achieve it, however, Vermonters will need more strategic coordination among diverse constituencies, greater synergy between local efforts and state action and bold policy-making.

A broad, diverse and engaged network of Vermonters is imperative to help Vermont do far more — far faster — on clean energy and climate change solutions. This event is a great place to help make that happen, offering tremendous networking opportunities, roundtable dialogues, 14 workshops, exhibits from leading clean energy businesses and organizations and more.’s Executive Director May Boeve — a young, articulate and effective climate leader (with strong Vermont roots!) — will be the keynote speaker.

Oh, and there’s a yummy largely local lunch!

Don’t miss this great event! Find out far more and register for just $40 at

Also, please help us spread the word and build the movement. Share this event on Facebook at

Solarize Installers Info Session – Dec 9

What: Information session for solar PV installers interested in participating in (or simply learning more about) Solarize Upper Valley.

When: December 9th, 2013 | 7:30am – 9:00am

Where: Community Room at the Kilton Public Library, 80 Main Street, West Lebanon, NH

Light Breakfast Provided | Please RSVP

Who Should Attend:  Solar PV installers interested in bidding on a Solarize Upper Valley partnership are strongly encouraged to attend,  Other curious renewable energy professionals are also welcome.

Meeting Prep: Attendees are encouraged to read Vital Communities’ Request for Proposals from Installers, and come ready with questions.  This RFP provides a detailed program description, timeline, and breakdown of Solarize Upper Valley roles and responsibilities.  The RFP has been posted initially in draft form and will be finalized for release on December 16th.  Feedback from installers at the December 9th information session will be incorporated, where possible, into the final RFP.


  • Presentation from Sarah Simonds, Energy Program Manager at Vital Communities and Solarize Upper Valley Program Manager.
  • Presentation from Toni Bouchard, Vice President at SmartPower, the nation’s leading non-profit marketing firm dedicated to promoting clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency.  Toni will share successes and lessons learned from Solarize programs in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
  • Q & A
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