Program Offers Solar Power Discount To Fairfield

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A new state program will make it cheaper for Fairfield residents to add photovoltaic panels like this one to their own homes. Photo Credit: Lucas Braun via Creative Commons

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – 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.

“It’s gratifying and exciting to be selected to participate in the pilot effort and to see where it can take us and Connecticut,” said First Selectman Michael Tetreau.

Solarize Connecticut is a joint program by the state Clean Energy Finance and  Investment Authority (CEFIA) and nonprofits The John Merck Fund and SmartPower. The program chose Fairfield along with Westport, Portland and Durham to act as test markets for a potential statewide program.

Homeowners in Fairfield can sign up to install photovoltaic (PV) cells on their houses. The panels collect sunlight and convert it into electricity for the house to use, with unused power going back into the local grid.

Solarize Connecticut plans to bring down the installation cost for Fairfielders by letting the entire town team up to buy in bulk. The program offers pricing at pre-set tiers, each triggered by a certain number of contracts. The more Fairfield residents who agree to by solar-power systems, the cheaper it will be for every buyer in town. 
SmartPower has based Connecticut’s program on similar ones it has run in Arizona and Oregon.

“Our Arizona Solar Challenge helped us crack the code on marketing residential solar installations,” SmartPower President Brian F. Keane said in a press release. “Now we’re more excited than ever to add Solarize to our efforts and bring solar to rooftops throughout Connecticut."

The program began in Massachusetts in 2011 as well. Harvard, Mass., one of the four towns chosen for that pilot program, added 75 solar power systems in four months. That number dropped the price to an average home from $27,500 to $20,000, according to Solarize Mass.

Massachusetts expanded the program to 17 more towns this year. Fairfield’s pilot program will help Solarize Connecticut expand in the same way in 2013.

Fairfield will host seminars in the coming months with representatives from SmartPower and CEFIA to answer homeowner’s questions and explain the benefits of the program. Fairfield residents have until Dec. 14 to sign a sales contract to join the pilot program. Those interested in learning more can send their name, address and email to Toni Bouchard at tbouchard@smartpower.org.

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