Suncommon makes it easy for you to go solar. We did all the legwork to figure out which technology works best in Vermont and formed a partnership with the best solar panel maker in the world. You can now go solar for free, with no down payment and monthly solar payments that are less than what your utility will pay you for the solar power you produce. We will handle any required state paperwork and manage the installation. The first step is to arrange your first free evaluation to see if solar can work for you. If it works out for you, great. If not, no sweat. Just fill out this little form, and you’ll on the path to solar power.
After you fill out the online form to share some basic information with us about you, your home and your utility – we’ll look at an aerial photograph of your home to assess its solar potential and let you know right away if you can go solar. From there we will design a system for your home or business, send you a proposal to review and arrange for a trained Evaluator to visit you and confirm your site will work well. One of our Solar Guides will be with you through the whole process to answer any question you might have and to coordinate the financing, permitting, and installation. Then we celebrate as you watch your meter run backwards.
If all the stars are aligned, solar panels could be on your roof in as little as four weeks. Lots can get in the way – like your availability to be home when we need to flip the switch, or prolonged bad weather, or the need to first repair your roof upgrade. But once you decide to go solar and if yours is a breeze, suncommon makes it quick for you to begin making electricity from the sun.
For the first time, suncommon makes it possible for Vermonters to go solar without any down payment and with monthly payments that are the same or less than your old electric bill. And the monthly payment for solar electricity is locked in, so as your utility continues to raise its rates – your panels will actually save you money.
suncommon is harnessing a lot of factors that makes this historic shift possible. Federal and state government policies support clean energy and offer incentives to lower the price. Suncommon creates a volume of customers so we can negotiate a volume discount with our supplier. We create efficiencies by organizing community-by-community so our people can conduct a bunch of home visits in a single day and our installers can concentrate in a town. And we’ve arranged attractive financing. Bundled together, this all means most Vermont homeowners can go solar with no upfront cost and a monthly payment that’s actually less than their utility bill. And that low monthly payment is locked in for the life of financing, so savings mount up as the utility continues to raise its rates.
The beauty of our lease is that the cost of your solar electricity will never go up, no matter what the utility is charging for electricity. If you increase the amount of electricity you use, however, by welcoming a new person into your home, getting a hot tub, installing a charging station for your electric vehicle, etc., then you will pay for that electricity through your utility at their current cost – unless you sized our solar array to accommodate planned increase in electricity use.
We kept hearing from our neighbors and friends that they’d go solar in a heartbeat, but that they couldn’t afford a big up-front payment. We are so excited to finally help you start saving money immediately on your utility bill without paying any money up front–you just make a monthly payment like you’re already doing for your electricity. We’ve made it hassle-free; we take care of the rebates, the tax credits, the financing, the maintenance, and monitoring. It’s a complete package for the solar family.
We partnered with VSECU, one of Vermont’s largest and most respected credit unions to offer a discounted solar loan. The credit union is a not-for-profit banking alternative for all Vermonters, which offers a full range of affordable financial products and services to its member-owners. Everybody who lives or works in Vermont is eligible to join. For homeowners with good credit and equity in their homes, VSECU’s special solar loan lops some off of their interest rate — already Vermont’s lowest. They agreed to eat the closing costs, and to give quick turnaround. And the low monthly payments are fixed for the term of the loan, so as utility rates continue to rise, your monthly solar payment will save you even more money. It’s easy to apply online, here.
One of our solar suppliers, SunPower, created a lease to bring the price down for its customers – just like the automakers do. So under its lease, SunPower owns the equipment that we install on your roof and you make a monthly payment to them. It’s a 20-year lease, with the monthly payment fixed at your current cost of electricity. So your power bill will never go up, saving you big money compared to what your neighbors will be paying for their power as the utility continues to raise its rates.
You can sign-up for another lease or ask SunPower to take the solar panels away at no charge. But the hidden little secret is that SunPower will likely let you keep your solar panels rather than paying to remove them – and there will be plenty of life left in the sturdy electronics of your solar panels.
Suncommon negotiated a sweet discounted Solar Loan through one of Vermont’s credit unions. Membership to VSECU is available to anyone who lives or works in Vermont, and offers attractive banking services because it’s a community-oriented locally-based not-for-profit. (We at SunCommon chose to bank with VSECU, it’s a great local outfit). They already had Vermont’s lowest interest rate for home equity loans – and for our Solar Loan they agreed to cover all the closing costs and give quick approval decisions. Such a deal. Check it out here.
Studies show that solar is viewed by homebuyers as an attractive amenity, so solar homes sell for more compared to conventional ones. It’s reasonable that homebuyers would appreciate the lowered monthly cost of electricity for the solar home they’re considering.
Sure, the sun pours energy on our state. Burlington gets 83% of the sun that Miami does – plenty of sunrays to make electricity. That’s why there are over 1,000 solar systems in Vermont – (although those folks paid more for theirs compared to suncommon’s no-money down opportunity!).
The sun’s rays strike the silicon atoms in the solar modules, exciting the electrons and creating electrical current. A typical solar panel contains 96 of these modules and a typical roof-mounted system has 20 of these panels. They are wired together and send the electricity as Direct Current (DC) down a cable to an inverter which converts the DC power to Alternating Current (AC) which is what powers our houses. That AC current runs past your utility meter, actually running it backwards!
Not at all, the electric grid serves as your really big battery. The electricity you make and don’t use gets fed into the grid and your utility sells it to your neighbors, giving you a credit for all that power. At night when your solar panels aren’t making electricity or anytime you need more power than you’re producing, you draw down that credit with the utility. The goal is to create as much power as you use over the course of a year, net out at zero and pay your utility nothing for electricity – letting your panels do the work. It’s called Net Metering, and Vermont state law requires our utilities to make this available to everyone.
Alas no. Because we live so far north on the planet, the sun arcs across our sky significantly to the south. So solar can’t face north and gather enough sunrays to efficiently produce electricity. Perfect for solar are roofs that face mostly south and are free of shade from tress, chimneys and dormers. But hey, we’ll do a free evaluation of your home’s solar potential. Just fill out this little form, and we’ll let you know what could work for you. No obligation, if it works out for you, great. If not, no sweat.
Most people want to get all the electricity they need from solar, so we seek to size their solar systems to provide 100% of their annual consumption. Some people want a solar system that produces more power than they use now, because they envision growing their family or adding an electric car. Some people need more power than their small roofs can accommodate. Our designers start by creating a system that provides you all the power you need, and then our Solar Guides discuss with you any different needs you might have to work out what’s best for you.
Suncommon is able to bring this amazing no-money down solar opportunity based on the volume and efficiencies we create by concentrating in specific communities, so our trained technicians can do a bunch of home visits in a single day and not criss-cross the state. We’ll expand across Vermont in time, but for now we are presenting this program in:
You have the power to bring suncommon to your town by creating a critical mass of people who want to go solar. Just organize your friends and neighbors to raise their hands, by filling out this little form. When we see that a bunch of folks from your town want in, we’ll bring this opportunity to you.
We looked far and wide for the right solar equipment – based on quality, performance, durability, sustainability and cost. SunCommon has a choice of equipment from two manufacturers: Silicon Valley-based SunPower and the German engineering firm Bosch. Both make the highest quality solar goods available. SunPower’s panels are the most efficient in the market, important because homes with limited roof space can get more power from the same surface area of SunPower panels. That high efficiency comes at a premium price. For homes with plenty of roof, the high-quality standard efficiency Bosch panels work great and come at a lower price. It’s great that we have options to design the best solar system for you based on your available space, shading and power needs.
Both SunPower and Bosch provide industry-leading warranties on their equipment: 25 years on solar panels, 10 years on the inverter. Both corporations are regulated publicy-traded corporations that are required by law to set aside reserves to cover their warranties.
Your monthly utility bill will show how much solar power your panels produced, to calculate the solar premium you’ll earn from your utility on all the power you make. A real-time monitoring system comes with each SunPower system and is available at an additional charge for Bosch systems.
SunPower is based in Silicon Valley. Its high tech founders had vast experience semiconductor manufacturing in Malaysia, and leveraged those relationships to build SunPower’s solar module fabrication plants there. Most of the modules are assembled into panels in the Philippines and finished in Mexico. SunPower also has a manufacturing plant in Silicon Valley to supply US-made panels for customers who desire them. The Bosch panels we use are manufactured by its solar subsidiary Aleo in Germany. SunCommon does not sell panels made in China.
Suncommon solved a big challenge to scaling up roof-top solar in Vermont by partnering with Peck Electric, one of our state’s largest and most respected electrical contractors. It’s a union shop, drawing its skilled craftspeople from among IBEW Local 300’s many licensed electricians and certified solar installers. Our ground mounts are installed by Gristmill Builders, the eco-builders of SunCommon’s headquarters, “The Energy Mill,” which is New England’s largest net-zero building. There’s been a lot of talk about creating green jobs; we get to do it.
Suncommon is a social venture, whose purpose is positive change. Our goal is to dramatically increase the production of solar energy in Vermont. We’re doing this by finally making solar cost the same or less than utility electricity and by making it easy for Vermonters to go solar.
Suncommon grew out of a pilot project at VPIRG, our state’s largest consumer and environmental advocacy organization. VPIRG Energy operated inside that non-profit, applying a community organizing approach and numerous business innovations to make solar easy and affordable for Vermonters. It was successful, generating sales of 300 solar systems in just one year, and was spun-off to its own separate entity to scale it up so that it could serve the many Vermonters who want to save money by going solar.
Its co-founders are Duane Peterson and James Moore, who worked together at VPIRG to design and operate the successful VPIRG Energy pilot program that was the predecessor to suncommon. They assembled an experienced and passionate staff for suncommon – 17 in all, including Designers, Guides, Evaluators, Traffic Manager and of course a Solar Goddess.
Suncommon benefits from an amazingly talented and committed Board of Advisors steeped in technology, venture capital, renewable energy and values-led business innovation.
suncommon is a social venture, whose purpose is positive change. The primary goal is to dramatically increase the production of solar energy in Vermont. How we do that is just as important. So we incorporated as Vermont’s 9th Benefit Corporation, an innovative legal structure that allows our business to pay equal attention to the triple bottom line: people, planet and profits. Traditional corporate law requires businesses to maximize shareholder profit. Our charter puts all of our stakeholders (investors, regulators, employees, vendors and neighbors) on notice that our business dealings will seek do right by the people we encounter and the habitat that sustains even as we strive for profitability so that we can sustain and grow the enterprise in order to do that much more good in the world.
This is where we live. Our roots are in the state’s largest and most effective consumer and environmental advocacy organization. We’re doing this to benefit our state, its people and its natural setting. Suncommon’s purpose is positive change. While we work towards dramatically increasing the production of solar energy, each of our business decisions can have smaller but meaningful positive effects as well.
We create work opportunities for Vermonters, starting with 17 direct jobs within suncommon and another 15 with our installer Peck Electric and its union labor force. We selected our professional support from among Vermont’s best including our local credit union, law firm, insurance brokers, car dealers, graphic artist, web designer, printer, computer dealer and solar roof flashing manufacturer. Buy local indeed.
Suncommon is a proud and active member of the innovative business organizations Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, Renewable Energy Vermont and Vermont Venture Network.
And our marketing relies on a community organizing model, that has our Organizers deep in local towns showing the way to solar neighborhood-by-neighborhood.
Our office consumes no fossil fuel because it can’t, there’s no furnace. It’s Vermont’s largest “Net Zero” office building, meaning that it produces as much or more energy as it uses. Called The Energy Mill, it’s heating and cooling are geothermal. Solar thermal panels heat our water, solar photovoltaic panels create all of our electricity including that which charges our electric cars – the Chevy Volt. Our building has a green grass roof, its wood was milled from local timber, our desks are reused bleacher seats and our conference table is reused solar panels. Our business belongs in that wonderful showpiece of a building.
Among suncommon’s talented staff are folks who spend most of their time in the field. Our Organizers engage in community organizing to bring solar to folks neighborhood-by-neighborhood. Our Evaluators visit our customers’ homes to confirm our solar designs are precise and ensure that solar is right for that home. So in providing them work vehicles, we sought to minimize fossil fuel use and selected a fleet of mostly hybrid Toyota Priuses (Prii?) along with 2 electric Chevy Volt and a high-MPG Subaru Impreza as our one all-wheel-drive vehicle for when that’s needed.