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 partnerships with the best solar panel makers in the world. You can now go solar for free, with no down payment and low monthly solar payments that mean thousands of dollars in savings over the life of your panels. We handle all the required state paperwork and manage the installation. Your first step is to schedule your free home visit with a SunCommon Solar Advisor to see if solar can work for you. There’s no obligation. If it works out for you, great. If not, no sweat. Just fill out this little form, and you’ll be 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 image of your home to assess your solar potential and let you know right away if solar is possible. From there, we’ll arrange a convenient time for you and a SunCommon Solar Advisor to visit at your home, collect detailed information about your solar resource, your structure and electrical system — to prepare a detailed proposal that shows how you can go solar. If it makes sense to you, our engineers then prepare the technical design and your Solar Guide manages all the paperwork, orders your high-quality equipment and schedules the installation with a certified electrician on every SunCommon job. We’ve done all the leg work to make solar easy and affordable. Then we celebrate as you watch your meter run backwards.
If all the stars are aligned, solar panels could be on your roof in a few months. 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. But once you decide to go solar and if yours is a breeze, SunCommon is committed to getting you solarized as quickly as possible.
For the first time, SunCommon makes it possible for Vermonters to go solar without any down payment and with fixed monthly payments. 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 — typically thousands over the life of the system.
The beauty of fixed monthly payments is that the cost of your solar electricity will never go up, no matter what the utility is charging for electricity. Your utility rates can continue to go up and up, and you’ll be saving even more money on your solar electricity compared to what you would have paid for utility power. 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 the big up-front payment typical before SunCommon. We are so excited to make solar available to Vermonters for no upfront cost and a low monthly payment, which is how we all are accustomed to paying for 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 the New England Federal Credit Union or NEFCU, 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 Vermonters in the 5 counties where SunCommon currently operates. For homeowners with good credit, NEFCU’s special solar loan offers really attractive rates, doesn’t tie up home equity and comes with quick approval. It’s easy and affordable.
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. Abundant vegetation shows it. Burlington gets 83% of the sun that Miami does – plenty of sunrays to make electricity. That’s why there are over 2,000 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 the kind of electricity that powers our houses. When your panels produce more power than your home needs, like on a hot sunny afternoon, that AC current runs past your utility meter, actually running it backwards and racking up a credit for you to use when the sun isn’t shining.
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 up to 4% of their peak load.
Alas no. Because we live so far north on the planet, the sun arcs across our sky significantly to the south. So solar panels 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. Certain roof types are better than others; click here for details. We also have the option to mount solar on the ground if the roof is not viable. 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; right now we are presenting this program in:
We’re working on it. But you can have a voice in where we go next, by signing up and encouraging your friends to do likewise. We’ll go where we’re wanted, so give us the sign. That’s how Addison, Franklin and Grand Isle Counties were added to the mix.
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 offers a choice of equipment from two manufacturers: Silicon Valley-based SunPower and LG. a global pioneer in electronics 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 LG 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.
SunPower provides an industry-leading warranty on their equipment: 25 years on solar panels, 10 years on the inverter. Both SunPower and LG have strong balance sheets that stand behind their warranties. SunCommon won’t sell cheap, inferior products. We live here in Vermont, and are happy to help our neighbors go solar with the highest-quality products available anywhere in the world.
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 LG systems.
SunPower is based in Silicon Valley, started by a Stanford University electrical engineering professor with experience in semiconductor manufacturing in Malaysia. So he 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 LG panels we use are manufactured in South Korea. 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 SolSource, a division of Headwaters Construction, with deep experience in excavation and building in the ground. Over 30 folks are employed by those outfits to do SunCommon’s solar work. There’s been a lot of talk about creating green jobs; we get to do it.
S unCommon believes that everyone has the right to a healthy environment and safer world. Our mission is to tear down the barriers that have made renewable energy inaccessible. We intend to repower our communities one home, one school, and one business at a time. We make going solar easy and affordable so that all Vermonters can together create a healthy environment and safer world.
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 – 29 in all, including Solar Organizers, Advisors, Designers, Guides… and of course a Solar Goddess. And SunCommon benefits from a 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 29 direct jobs within suncommon and another 30 with our installers Peck Electric and iSolSource. We selected our professional support from among Vermont’s best including our 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, Vermont Venture Network and the nation-wide Social 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 simply belongs in this wonderful showpiece of a building.
Among SunCommon’s talented staff are folks who spend most of their time out of the office and in the field. Our Organizers engage in community organizing to bring solar to folks neighborhood-by-neighborhood. Our Advisors visit our customers’ homes to show just how solar can work for them. So in providing them work vehicles, we sought to minimize fossil fuel use and selected a fleet of mostly hybrid Toyota Priuses (or is it Prii?) along with 2 electric Chevy Volts, a MiniCooper and a high-MPG Subaru Impreza as our one all-wheel-drive vehicle for when that’s needed.