The following story was originally published in WestportNews.
Residents of Westport may have yet another reason to enjoy sunny days.
The state’s Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority, SmartPower and the John Merck Fund recently chose the town to participate in Solarize Connecticut, a pilot program designed to encourage homeowners to use solar power. The initiative, modeled after a Massachusetts program and similar to plans in Oregon and Arizona, offers increasingly lower costs for photovoltaic installations as more homeowners participate through selected suppliers.
“This is to bear proof to the markets that aggregating customer demand for residential PV installation will result in real cost savings,” authority spokesman David Goldberg said.
It also provides education, marketing and outreach through SmartPower, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit marketer of clean energy.
The towns of Fairfield, Durham and Portland were selected for the program, as well, according to a news release from the state agency.
They were chosen out of 10 municipalities that applied based on proposals showing a high level of commitment to the program as well as creativity in execution, Goldberg said.
“They showed they had a really well-thought-out plan,” he said.
The program has already received a significant amount of interest from residents, who appreciate the benefits of solar power, but are concerned with installation costs, said David Mann, chairman of the Westport Green Task Force.
“This is a way to reduce those up-front costs,” he said.
Residents may take advantage of the Westport Home Energy Challenge, which offers assessment of a home’s energy needs at a subsidized cost of $75, before participating in the state program, Mann said.
“This is a good opportunity for Westporters to take that next step,” he said.
One or two suppliers per town out of about 70 eligible firms meeting certain criteria, including ability to offer pricing based on the number of homeowner participants, were slated to be chosen Thursday, July 26, Goldberg said. Each supplier can apply to do business through the program in all four towns, but will be limited to just two of them.
Applications will be made available to homeowners once the program, funded in part by the John Merck Fund, a Boston clean-energy advocate, selects the suppliers, he said. Homeowners receiving rebates on solar systems through the state’s Residential Solar Investment Program will also be eligible to participate in Solarize Connecticut.
“It’ll be announced in a very clear manner on how to participate once that’s ready to go,” he said, emphasizing that the number of homeowners will determine the cost reduction. “Interested homeowners should stay tuned.”
Homeowners will be offered a variety of participation plans, including direct ownership and leasing.
Workshops will take place in August, September and through the fall at various locations in Westport to inform residents of the program, Mann said. Residents will have until Dec. 14 to apply for participation, he said.
Four more communities are expected to be selected early next year in a second phase of the program, which may expand depending on success, Goldberg said.
“Our expectation is we will receive even a larger number of applicants in the second phase, because I think others will recognize the value of this program,” he said.
Contact Pipa Bell Ader of Westport Home Energy Challenge at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-293-6320 or visit www.ctcleanenergy.com/solarizect for information.
email@example.com; 203-255-4561, ext. 112; twitter.com/mjuliano
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Fairfield Daily Voice: Program Offers Solar Power Discount To Fairfield - Fairfield homeowners now have the chance to add more solar-powered electricity to their homes for cheaper prices. Fairfield is one of four towns chosen to test-run Solarize Connecticut, a new green energy program. [July 24, 2012]
Westport News: Westport Chosen for Solar Program - ”This is to bear proof to the markets that aggregating customer demand for residential PV installation will result in real cost savings,” authority spokesman David Goldberg said. [July 26, 2012]
Department of Energy: All Eyes on Eastport: Tidal Energy Project Brings Change, Opportunity to Local Community - In Eastport, Maine, people are gathering to celebrate a project that will harness the power of the massive tides of Cobscook Bay to generate clean electricity. [July 24, 2012]
Knovel: Transparent Solar Cells Could Make Windows Into A Power Source - Over the past few years, the U.S. has already become a growing player in the solar energy industry, with states like New Jersey and California seeing solar panels cropping up on rooftops from houses to warehouses. [July 24, 2012]
POLITICO: Things Are Looking Up for EVs — “Plug-in electric vehicle sales continue to increase, with sales growth outpacing that of gasoline hybrid electric vehicles when they were first introduced. We expect to see this trend continue, as several new vehicle models were introduced earlier this year, providing additional choices for consumers considering electric drive vehicles.” [July 26, 2012]
The New York Times: Money Helps Miss. Colleges Cut Energy Usage - Three Mississippi universities will share in a $725,000 Department of Energy grant to develop programs to reduce energy consumption 20 percent by 2020. [July 26, 2012]
The Wall Street Journal: EU Solar Firms Seek Tariffs on China - European solar-panel makers on Tuesday filed a confidential complaint with European authorities seeking import tariffs on Chinese-made panels, opening a new front in the battle between the West and China over trade in renewable-energy products. [July 24, 2012]
The New York Times: Save Energy, Win a Prize - With temperatures hovering near a sweaty 100 degrees in recent weeks, the nation’s electric utilities have been taking to Facebook and Twitter, urging customers to conserve energy in the hopes of avoiding blackouts and other strains on the system. [July 23, 2012]
Rocky Hill, Conn., July 12, 2012 —The Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (CEFIA), The John Merck Fund, and SmartPower announce the launch of Solarize Connecticut, a pilot residential solar program (Program) that aggregates homeowners across communities to offer discounted prices for residential solar power.
The Program will be piloted in four communities selected through a competitive solicitation process. Durham, Fairfield, Portland, and Westport were selected for the first phase of the Solarize Connecticut Program based on an ability to execute an effective outreach and community based campaign.
“We are extremely excited to be chosen as one of the pilot communities,” said First Selectwoman Susan Bransfield of Portland. “This is exactly the kind of program that will help us expand solar in our community and offer an excellent investment opportunity for our residents.”
The Solarize Connecticut model is designed to drive down the cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems for residential consumers. The more residents who sign up to install solar, the greater the price declines. Because the installer, the technology and the exact price of PV are already provided in the Solarize Connecticut Program, it will be easier for residents to make the decision to install solar. Similarly modeled programs in Oregon and Massachusetts have successfully delivered a lower cost to consumers.
“We are very excited about launching Solarize Connecticut through our partnership with The John Merck Fund and SmartPower,” said Bryan Garcia, president and CEO of CEFIA. “This program builds on our efforts to drive down costs in the residential PV market here in Connecticut. Through our selected Clean Energy Communities, we will aggregate customer demand and continue to work toward developing a sustainable market that attracts private capital investment.”
Ten years ago, CEFIA and The John Merck Fund invested in SmartPower to create the award-winning Clean Energy Communities campaign. The partners are coming together again to launch Solarize Connecticut — a program which they are hopeful will achieve success in driving down the cost of residential solar.
“The John Merck Fund is spending out so we have ten years to help build New England’s clean energy future,” said Ruth Hennig, Executive Director of The John Merck Fund. “Our new partnership with CEFIA and SmartPower, which is launching Solarize Connecticut as part of the New England Solar Challenge, is a strong beginning, and we’re excited about the potential for other states to join with Connecticut.”
“Our Arizona Solar Challenge helped us crack the code on marketing residential solar installations,” said Brian F. Keane, president of SmartPower. “Now we’re more excited than ever to add Solarize to our efforts and bring solar to rooftops throughout Connecticut.”
The initial pilot phase will run from mid-July through the end of 2012. The best practices and lessons learned from these four towns will then be applied to a second opt-in phase of the Connecticut pilot in early 2013.
“Our team of elected officials and volunteer residents came together to create a plan to promote Solarize Connecticut in our community. We are ready to begin implementation of the plan.” said First Selectman Laura Francis of the Town of Durham. “It’s gratifying and exciting to be selected to participate in the pilot effort and to see how well we can advance solar technology in Durham and the State of Connecticut.”
For additional information please visit www.ctcleanenergy.com/solarizect.
MANSFIELD, Conn. - Southeast Elementary and the Green Thumbs Club helped the Neighbor to Neighbor Energy Challenge celebrate Earth Month in April by hosting joint-assemblies with Vinton Elementary and Goodwin Elementary Schools. Neighbor to Neighbor representatives discussed the importance of saving energy. In addition, all students in attendance pledged to do at least one thing to reduce energy in their homes.
All 400 students in attendance received the Neighbor to Neighbor Energy Challenge’s “Please Don’t Feed the Vampire” kit, which helps students and their families identify vampire energy loads at home. As students and their families prepare to end the school year and head into summer — a notably higher period of energy use — the pledges will engage students in their energy use at home and think, learn and act beyond the classroom.
The kit includes a vampire-themed scavenger hunt that sends students searching through their homes in pursuit of “vampire draw” or “phantom loads” — appliances and devices that may appear to be powered down, but continue to suck energy while in standby mode or while plugged into outlets.
“Elementary students are the perfect age to begin thinking about ways to reduce energy waste,” said Fred Baruzzi, Superintendent for Mansfield Public Schools. “We were happy to have the Neighbor to Neighbor Energy Challenge come to our schools and educate our students.”
Kerry O’Neill, Program Manager for the Neighbor to Neighbor Energy Challenge, added, “Each year, it takes the combined output of 17 power plants to power devices that U.S. homeowners think they’ve turned off, from microwaves and coffeemakers to flat-screen TVs and cell phone chargers. Our vampire campaign will empower students and their families to reduce energy costs in a fun, interactive way.”
We know you can’t catch every article during your busy week, so we’ve consolidated the recent top energy news stories for you in one easy list. Share your favorite energy, environment and efficiency articles with us on Twitter using the hashtag #SmartReads.
Forbes: Solar Power More Competitive Than Decision-Makers Or Consumers Realize – Are the decision-makers entrusted with determining the future of energy infrastructure operating under an outdated understanding of the cost-competitiveness of solar power? In many cases, the answer is yes, according to a paper released last week by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). [May 24, 2012]
Boston.com: Connecticut subsidies seen spurring home solar power – Installing solar panels could cost, on average, $35,000, according to a state energy agency spokesman. [May 20, 2012]
TreeHugger: Solar Backpacks to Charge Marines in the Field – In an effort to reduce the energy supply needs and lessen the risks of U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) forward deployed forces, researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have prototyped and are field-testing one solution: A mobile solar power pack, with high efficiency, flexible solar cells coupled to a high capacity rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack. [May 24, 2012]
Boston Herald: Obama calls for keeping production tax credit to save clean-energy jobs – From a wind-power factory in this battleground state, President Barack Obama urged Congress to extend tax credits he said would save jobs in the field of clean-energy production. [May 24, 2012]
Huffington Post: Saudi Arabia Eyes Solar Power For Future – Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, may finally be getting serious about overcoming the technical and financial hurdles for tapping its other main resource: sunshine. [May 23, 2012]
Earth Techling: Robot To Wash Solar Panels Among Winning Student Inventions – Students took home $200,000 in prizes for green ideas at an awards ceremony recently held at California Institute of Technology for a Department of Energy competition. [May 19, 2012]
SmartPlanet: All-in-one ‘V-Pole’ charges electric cars, lights the street – Who says a street lamp should just light our city streets?… At the top of the pole there’s an LED street light, and built into the pole there’s Wi-Fi, technology to wirelessly charge your electric car, and cell phone infrastructure [May 25, 2012]
Los Angeles Times: Nissan Leaf’s U.S. sales may jump after production starts here – Nissan sold just 370 Leaf electric vehicles in the U.S. last month and only 2,103 so far this year. To put this in perspective, the U.S. auto industry has sold almost 4.7-million vehicles this year. But as Andy Palmer, executive vice president of Nissan’s Yokohama, Japan-based global operations, notes, the U.S. sales numbers don’t provide much of a marker for the success of the first mass-market electric car in several generations. [May 24, 2012]
New York Times: Cramming for Degrees in Hybrids – LIKE many college students, Katherine Bovee, a master’s degree candidate at Ohio State University in Columbus, struggled to find a focus for her undergraduate studies. Wanting to sample a broad range of possibilities, she enrolled in a mechanical engineering program. [May 18, 2012]
Los Angeles Times: Consumer Reports: Car buyers care most about fuel economy – Fuel economy is the top feature buyers consider when shopping for a new car, according to a recent survey by Consumer Reports. [May 22, 2012]
East Hampton-Portland Patch: Neighbor to Neighbor Energy Challenge Rewards Resident for Early Action – Last week, the Neighbor to Neighbor Energy Challenge performed a free LED lighting upgrade — worth more than $1,000 — for raffle winner and East Hampton resident Jamie Owen. [May 21, 2012]
WETHERSFIELD, Conn. – The Connecticut Neighbor to Neighbor Energy Challenge is helping Connecticut residents save money and reduce energy use in their communities by exchanging incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) at no cost. Neighbor to Neighbor is now urging residents to take advantage of its free CFL lighting installation program before supplies run out in June.
The Neighbor to Neighbor Free Lighting Program, helps Connecticut residents transition to more energy efficient bulbs as new federal lighting standards limit the types of incandescent light bulbs available on the market. The program gives residents a head start finding the most efficient light bulbs that work best for their homes. It‘s a simple first step for homeowners who want to reduce energy consumption and start saving money on monthly electricity bills.
Estimates show that the average home’s lighting accounts for 10 to 15 percent of electricity consumption, and by switching to energy efficient bulbs, families can save an average of $125 per year. Some residents have even seen savings of more than $300 per year. Upgrading to energy efficient light bulbs greatly reduces the amount of energy wasted through the use of outdated incandescent light bulbs.
“The Free Lighting program has been instrumental across the state in engaging residents to address their energy needs. It serves a critical first step in helping homeowners understand the many ways they can save money through our program,” said Kerry O’Neill, Program Manager of the Neighbor to Neighbor Energy Challenge. “Why wouldn’t you sign up? It’s free and can cut costs on your home energy bills.”
Since launching in December 2010, Neighbor to Neighbor has completed hundreds of free lighting visits around the state, replacing 5,000 incandescent light bulbs with efficient compact fluorescent bulbs and avoiding 181,382 pounds of C02 emissions. The lifetime impact of these efforts is more than $50,000 in energy cost savings. In addition, the program has saved 600 megawatt hours of electricity — enough to power more than 50 homes each year.
The Neighbor to Neighbor Clean Energy Corps, a team of eight young lighting professionals, install up to 25 free compact fluorescent light bulbs and educate homeowners on efficient lighting technology. Corps members received residential lighting certificates after completing a course from the Lighting Research Center at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
While funding for the Neighbor to Neighbor Lighting Program will end in June 2012, the program will continue offering its many other services through 2013. Residents can sign up for their free in-home lighting visit at www.CTEnergyChallenge.com/lighting or call 860-372-4406.
Community Energy Waste Reduction Effort Touches 300 Homes in 14 Communities, Creating Dramatic Home Energy Cost Savings for Connecticut Homeowners
The Connecticut Neighbor to Neighbor Energy Challenge, a community energy savings campaign that is helping Connecticut residents save money, reduce energy use and create vital green jobs in their communities, announced that its Clean Energy Corps has reached an important energy savings milestone, completing more than 300 free home lighting installations across the state.
Since launching in December 2010, Neighbor to Neighbor completed 313 lighting visits, replacing almost 5,000 incandescent light bulbs with efficient compact fluorescent bulbs and avoiding 181,382 pounds of CO2 emissions. The lifetime impact of these efforts is more than $39,000 in energy cost savings, thanks to over 600 megawatt hours of saved electricity. That’s enough electricity to power more than 50 homes!
“Hats off to our committed partners in the communities where Neighbor to Neighbor’s outreach team does its work,” said Kerry O’Neill, Program Manager of the Neighbor to Neighbor Energy Challenge. “These reductions are a testament to what the state of Connecticut can accomplish when communities work together. But more importantly, these energy costs savings mean Connecticut homeowners have more money in their pockets, and to put back into the local economy.”
The Neighbor to Neighbor lighting program is a free and simple first step for homeowners who want to reduce their energy consumption and start saving money on their monthly electricity bills. Lighting accounts for 10 to 15 percent of electricity consumption in an average home. So far, switching to energy efficient bulbs saves families an average of $125 per year, and some residents have seen savings more than $300 per year. This greatly reduces the amount of energy wasted through the use of outdated incandescent light bulbs.
The Neighbor to Neighbor Clean Energy Corps, a team of eight recent college graduates, execute the program, visiting homes to perform assessments and installations of free compact fluorescent light bulbs and educate homeowners on efficient lighting technology. Corps members received residential lighting certificates after completing a course from the Lighting Research Center at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
New federal lighting standards taking effect soon will limit the types of incandescent light bulbs available on the market. The Neighbor to Neighbor lighting program gives residents a head start finding the right modern, efficient light bulbs that will work best for their homes.
Funding for the Neighbor to Neighbor lighting program will end in summer 2012, and limited slots remain. To take advantage of this great program, residents should sign up quickly for their free in-home lighting visit at www.ctenergychallenge.com/lighting.
The Neighbor to Neighbor Energy Challenge continues to make great progress in the fourteen clean energy communities across Connecticut, helping homeowners save money on rising utility bills and reinvest in the local economy.
The program recently announced the winners of the highly competitive Community Group Rewards Competition, which rewarded participating community organizations for their efforts to encourage members to pursue energy efficiency upgrades. The Friends of the Cheshire Library won $5,000 worth of energy rewards for partnering with Neighbor to Neighbor to host workshops and encourage energy efficiency in their community.
It’s been a busy year filled with dozens of community events, workshops and CFL giveaways, with many more planned in 2012. We’re just getting started!
We love public officials who lead by example! Today, huge kudos go to Daniel Esty, the new commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection, and his wife, Elizabeth, a former Connecticut state legislator who is running for Congress. Dan and Elizabeth invited local media into their home to witness and document their home energy assessment. Above, Elizabeth and Dan learn about where air is leaking out of their house.
The assessment will help the Esty family save about $200 per year, starting today. But more important, it will give them a blueprint for what they can do next. Depending on what their home needs - better insulation, more efficient appliances - the Estys can move forward with deeper actions that will lead to persistent and meaningful reductions in their home’s energy use (and their monthly energy bills).
The Esty family is participating in the Neighbor to Neighbor Energy Challenge, which will walk them through further upgrades and energy-saving actions. Their willingness to champion their participation in local media is a huge help as Neighbor to Neighbor continues its outreach to residents in 14 towns across Connecticut, urging them to get their own home energy assessment through the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund’s Home Energy Solutions program.
Home Energy Solutions is available to all residents of Connecticut, and is a great deal: in most cases, it’s only $75 for approximately $700 worth of services.
Way to go, Dan and Elizabeth!