Solarize Wilton starts Jan. 12
Wilton homeowners who have been considering solar as an energy option for their homes will have an opportunity to learn about a town-wide program, with discount prices.
In November, the Board of Selectmen approved a memorandum of understanding reflecting their support of Solarize Wilton, and on Jan. 12, the 18-week, state-run residential solar installation incentive program will officially begin.
A commencement event is scheduled for that Tuesday, from 7-8:30 p.m., at Wilton Library, 137 Old Ridgefield Road. Residents can attend to learn about the program, meet the solar installer, hear about financing options, and get feedback on whether or not their houses are solar-friendly. Jan. 13 is the snow date, same time and location.
The purpose of Solarize Wilton is to make the installation of solar systems more affordable for residents. To do this, the town, the Energy Commission, and Wilton Go Green selected one vendor to perform all solar installations in Wilton, in exchange for discount pricing.
And in addition to the price cuts, Solarize Wilton affords 0%-down financing for qualified residents, and systems added through the program come with 25-year warranties. To get started, visit SolarizeCT.com/Wilton.
With the launch of Solarize Wilton days away, Wilton Energy Commission Co-Chair Debra Thompson-Van briefed the Board of Selectmen at its meeting on Jan. 4, giving town executives an update on program specifics.
“The primary benefit to the town of running this program,” said Thompson-Van, “is to offer the residences a pre-negotiated, community-based pricing that is a discount off of the equipment and installation services they may not have had access to if they were buying it one residence at a time.”
Funded by the Connecticut Green Bank through a partnership with nonprofit SmartPower, Solarize Connecticut is a statewide energy program designed to encourage the adoption of residential solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, the incentive being that, for a single community, the more residents who sign up, the cheaper the installation of solar panels becomes for everyone.
When a community enrolls in the program, the program takes the name of that community, à la Solarize Wilton.
In the past, Solarize Connecticut has achieved cash benefits for homes through a tiered pricing structure in which a single installer is specified for a particular community and rebates in that community are administered when participation in the program reaches certain milestones.
However in this case, things will be done a little differently. It is the opinion of Wilton’s Energy Commission that the way Solarize Connecticut has worked in the past can potentially place undue pressure on residents to employ certain vendors.
“We were concerned tiered pricing does drive one neighbor to maybe put pressure on another neighbor. That’s not the case anymore,” Thompson-Van said.
For the sake of mitigating that pressure, residents will not be required to go with the vendor recommended by the Energy Commission, though they will miss out on preferred pricing if they do choose not to.
“No resident is under any circumstance required to use the solar vendor,” Thompson-Van said. “This round of the program is different from every other round. The price that’s being offered is offered regardless of whether one resident or 100 residents take advantage of this program.”
With Solarize Connecticut, the request-for-proposal-process is state-led. According to Thompson Van, the state forwarded nine vendor bids to a “preselection team” composed of Wilton energy officials, who invited three of the nine to make presentation.
Of those three, one installer’s bid was awarded — that of Ross Solar Group, a Danbury-based solar energy equipment supplier that serves Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.
“Those three vendors were all notable, and quite frankly, had any one of the three of them been the one we chose, we would have been in a very good position,” Thompson-Van said.
In order to take advantage of Solarize Wilton’s reduced rates, residents must sign their contracts by May 18. But as Thompson-Van noted in her presentation, for residents to take advantage of certain state and federal rebates, the actual installation must be completed within 2016.
Solarize Connecticut began in 2012, and 58 communities have participated since the program’s inception.
The Connecticut Green Bank is a quasi-public agency that leverages public and private funds to accelerate the growth of green energy in Connecticut.
SmartPower is a national nonprofit marketing firm dedicated to promoting clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency.