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.
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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.