Hundreds Drawn To Solar Energy In Connecticut
Solarize Connecticut and CT Solar Challenge are both working to promote community-based incentive programs to grow solar energy. Right now, the average solar system in Connecticut of about 7 kilowatts costs $35 thousand dollars. "Through Solarize we were able to reduce that price into the low 20 thousands. So, right off the top, customers are saving more than 10 thousand dollars," said Bob Wall, director of outreach at the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority, which partners with the national organization, Smart Power to become Solarize. The way it works: Solarize picks cities and towns through a bidding process. The selected community chooses an installer, and the more people it gets to sign up; the lower the price for everyone in that community. Incentives in Fairfield, Westport, Durham and Portland lasted for 20 weeks, and wrapped up last month with nearly 300 residential solar contracts. "One of the towns, Durham, resulted in 500 percent of its previous number of contracts. They went from 23 to 117 new projects," Wall said. CT Solar Challenge is a non-profit working to promote residential solar. Municipalities can also earn points towards owning a system. Chester, Bethany, Branford, and Madison recently became the first four towns to join. But Chris Lenda, president of Aegis Solar Energy, which gained the contract for Chester. He says state-based incentives really drive growth. "The solar energy's a boom-bust cycle. And we've seen it all," he said. Four towns and Bridgeport recently joined Solarize. CT Solar Challenge says it plans to go statewide in the spring.