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 vitalcommunities.org/energy/solarize/.