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Solarize The Upper Valley: Bring Sustainable Energy To Your Home Or Business

Mar 03, 2015 12:15PM ● Published by Victoria Pipas

Solarize Upper Valley, a Vital Communities initiative, is turning up the heat! The program, which has expanded since its start, was developed in 2013 and is based on similar programs thriving in Massachusetts and Connecticut. The Upper Valley has served as a pilot for the Solarize model in Northern New England.

The three-part program begins with towns applying to become Solarize communities. Next, solar photovoltaic (PV) installers bid to become the town’s Solarize partner, and one is chosen after careful selection with the help of Vital Communities and an independent technical consultant. This benefits residents and solar installers alike.

During the 15-week third round, Solarize teams host workshops and open houses, send newsletters, and take part in other outreach activities to encourage residents to sign up for a free site evaluation. Residents are also offered free advice about solarizing their homes or businesses and are often offered incentives for going solar. Community members, volunteers, and installers work together to promote solarization and successfully deliver its promises to residents.

The results lead to PV panels being installed on homes and businesses in the community that can benefit from them, with confidence on the part of the resident or small business owner, the installer, and the community, and in turn, making solar photovoltaic energy more accessible in Northern New England.

Solarize Upper Valley begins with motivated community members. Town residents can spearhead the application process for their town to become a Solarize community, either applying alone or in partnership with neighboring towns. So far, there have been two “rounds” of solarization, creating 8 Solarize communities across 13 Upper Valley towns, and Solarize Round Three community proposals are due by March 16th. This small-scale organizing of the region has a big aim—to “at least double the amount of residential and small business solar in each of our Solarize communities.”

In a 15-week period in the fall and winter of 2014, 181 homes went solar! This was a significant increase from 120 homes in Round One and demonstrates this program’s growing outreach skills. The combined effect of both rounds has been the addition of 1700 kilowatts of solar energy to the Upper Valley—that’s the equivalent of removing 313 cars from the road in terms of decreased carbon emissions!

If you’d like to contribute to the success of Solarize Upper Valley’s Round Three, you can, with the support of your municipal leaders, propose your town as a Solarize community. Round Three will run from June through September of 2015, so if you are interested in solarizing your home or adding your town to the growing list of communities, act now!

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