BARRE TOWN — Stephen and Micki Woodruff stood below a partially installed 18-panel solar array on their roof in Barre Town as electricians lugged the final panels into place and bolted them to a metal frame.
“I will be a power producer by the end of the day,” Stephen Woodruff told a crowd of solar installers who gathered outside his home to celebrate SunCommon’s 1,000th home solar installation.
Woodruff said he already installed a solar hot water heater on his garage and plans to purchase an electric car that he can charge at home. After 12 to 14 years, he said the project will be completely paid off. The panels last for 25 years.
“We are reducing our carbon footprint on this planet,” Woodruff said. “I think that even though this is a very small step, we have taken a step to reduce our carbon footprint.”
The number of small-scale solar installations has doubled in Vermont since 2012, in part thanks to a state incentive program that allows homeowners to generate their own renewable electricity and sell it back to their utility. In many situations, homeowners can finance an installation for equal or near the price of a utility bill under the program, developers say.
A state rebate program offering funding for solar and other renewable energy technologies will expire at the end of the year. But according to James Moore, co-founder of Waterbury-based SunCommon, the industry can stand on its own with the support of electricians, roofers and engineers.
“That state incentive did exactly what it was supposed to do, which is to help start an industry and go away,” Moore said of the rebate. “And the good news is that our industry will keep growing without that.”
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