WCAX: Are Vt. utilities limiting customers’ solar power?

safe_image.php copyFor Peter Plagge, the sun beating down today is great news for his wallet down the road.

“Those 12 panels were attached last June,” he said.

He has a 12 SunCommon solar panels installed on his home and is part of the net metering system. Net metering allows him to get credit for the power he produces.

“Prior to this, I didn’t know how to get into it. It was too expensive,” Plagge said.

Plagge’s story is one state policymakers are thrilled about– using his own capital to produce clean, renewable energy at home.

“Net metering has been on the books since 1998,” said Rep. Tony Klein, D-East Montpelier.

The state says incentives are working with net metering and people are getting on board.

“We’re finally getting to the point where these systems are in reach for most any Vermonter,” Klein said.


Vermont Business Magazine: Uncommon Energy from SunCommon

Maybe it’s because solar energy is his business, emails from Duane Peterson often close with “Have a sunny day” or “Hoping the sun is shining on you.” These little homilies show that Peterson is not only a preternaturally cheerful person, but that the former environmental activist’s first foray into business — the uncommon SunCommon — appears to be booming.IMG_0833

When it comes to residential solar, everybody knows the problem: solar energy is sexy right now, yes, but it is also expensive, confusing and time-consuming. What rebates are available? Are there tax credits? What permits are needed? Can your roof support solar panels? Or should they be on the ground? What kinds of solar panels? Where should they come from? Who will install them? Who will service them? And the big one: residential solar can cost upward of $20,000 a home, so how will you ever pay for all of this?

Peterson and his business partner James Moore understand these problems.

“We’re a Vermont-based benefit company who believe folks have a right to a healthy planet,” Peterson said. “We can make solar available for no up-front cost and a monthly payment that is actually less than what you pay your utilities. So with us you actually save money by doing the right thing.”


Addison Independent: Solar firm hosts art, info events at ‘pop-up’ store

MIDDLEBURY — Along with offering information to prospective customers seeking financing or product information on solar power, SunCommon has been hosting a series of educational events at the “pop-up” store it opened June 14 at the LaIMG_0474zarus Building, which sits at the head of Printers Alley in downtown Middlebury.

A so-called pop-up store is a space rented by a retailer or other business for a short period of time, often to sell seasonal products like Christmas items. SunCommon in this case took advantage of an unoccupied retail space in Middlebury’s downtown to showcase itself and also offer the educational component.

In addition, the SunCommon pop-up features a gallery of art that presented local craftspeople’s works at last month’s Middlebury Arts Walk, and will do so again at the Arts Walk on July 12.

Business leaders, elected officials, SunCommon staff, and friends gathered on June 14 to launch a pop-up art gallery and storefront that celebrates local artists and solar energy alike. It marked the beginning of a six-week run.

“As we head into summer, the season of solar, SunCommon is excited to work with the Addison County community to turn up the volume on solar power,” said Jessica Edgerly Walsh, SunCommon’s lead organizer, at the opening event.

Rep. Diane Lanpher, D-Vergennes; President of the Addison County Chamber of Commerce Andy Mayer; and Chair of the Middlebury Energy Committee Laura Asermily joined the SunCommon staff in celebrating the accomplishments of Addison County residents in building local, renewable energy and in the opening of the solar art gallery and environmental learning space.

350VT, the Vermont Energy Education Program (VEEP), and SunCommon are all hosting events in the space. For instance, 350VT on Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., will host an education day in which members of the organization will offer information on the proposed gas pipeline that will go through Addison County. Organizers said the day will end with the screening of a movie.

On Tuesday, July 9, after the Brown Bag Lunch Series performance that is part of Festival on-the-Green, VEEP will host “Solar Powered Kids,” billed as a “fun workshop for the kids.” It will start at approximately 1 p.m.

Next Friday evening, July 12, 7-8 p.m., the store will be the site of a “Climate Change Poetry Reading by Greg Delanty and Friends.” Delanty is the poet in residence at St. Michael’s College and is active in the climate movement. This event will immediately follow the Arts Walk.

A full listing of events can be found at www.suncommon.com/events.


Addison Independent: Central school in Ferrisburgh entertains a solar array plan

FERRISBURGH — At their Thursday meeting, the Ferrisburgh Central School board heard a proposal for a roughly 120-kilowatt solar array that would produce about the same amount of electricity needed to power FCS for a year.

Jon Budreski of Waterbury’s SunCommon outlined an arrangement for a solar array that would not provide electricity directly to the school, but through net-metering would earn FCS a credit of about $2,500 a year on its power bill.

A third-party investor would own the array, which FCS would lease from the investor in exchange for a lower Green Mountain Power bill. That credit, Budreski said, would start at about $207 a month and rise over time at the same rate as electricity bills, while the lease payment stayed the same.

The school would also have the option to purchase the array outright after about seven years, or get it for “pennies” or for free at the end of a 20-year lease, he said. The array would come with a 25-year warranty, Budreski said.

Ferrisburgh energy committee coordinator Bob McNary recommended the board consider it. But Addison Northwest Supervisory Union business manager Kathy Cannon said state education officials have reservations about similar arrangements because of the profit turned by investors and because of other energy needs that might be higher priorities. Cannon said she would be learning more in a July meeting, and the board tabled the solar array discussion until August.

Most board members and residents spoke positively about the proposal, although school board Chairman David Tatlock said the board would “need input on this” before acting.

Ferrisburgh resident Deb Rooney said she would not object to investors making a profit on the project.

“I’d rather pay money to someone who is providing green power,” she said.

Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at andyk@addisonindependent.com.


What does solar look like?

As Vermont’s largest solar company, we have helped thousands of people go solar. We are proud of the work we do and the systems we design and install. If you ask us, we have the most attractive installations anywhere. In fact, we are so proud, that we have created a gallery to show off our work and to give you a better sense of what your solar installation will look like. Click below to see some of our work.

Green Mountain Outlook: Solar art gallery, store opens in downtown Middlebury

STAND_ALONE_SunCommon_ribbon_cutting_t670Middlebury — Local officials and SunCommon staff gathered to launch the solar energy company’s pop-up art gallery and storefront located at 20 Main St. in downtown Middlebury.

The store will display local artists and solar energy alike.

The space will host events aimed at educating local residents about clean energy solutions. State Rep. Diane Lanpher (D), Addison County Chamber of Commerce’s Andy Mayer, Middlebury Energy Committee’s Laura Asermily joined in.


Green Mountain Outlook – SunCommon solar store and gallery to open June 18

Middlebury — Solar energy is powering more and more residences and commercial operations in Addison County, Vt. To mark its footprint in the solar enterprise, Vermont-based solar-array installer SunCommon is opening a unique solar store at 20 Main St. in downtown Middlebury.

“We will be setting a new solar goal for the county and announcing an exciting new solar program for farms,” according to Andrea Ochs, a self-described solar organizer. “In addition to solar workshops offered by our staff, local artists and nonprofits will use the pop-up space to display work and host clean energy related events.”

Ochs said an open house will be held Tuesday, June 18, at 11 a.m. at the 20 Main St.

“We’re thrilled that State Rep. Lanpher will join SunCommon in celebrating the launch of our Pop-Up Solar Art Gallery and Store as we continue to help Addison County homeowners go solar,” said Duane Peterson, SunCommon’s president.


Burlington Free Press – SunCommon to install 18.3kW of solar on Energy Innovation Center

Two Vermont solar installers have been selected to build the Solar Center at Rutland Regional Medical Center and the solar installation at Green Mountain Power’s planned Energy Innovation Center.

SameSun of Vermont, based in Rutland, will build the 150-kilowatt Solar Center at Rutland Regional and SunCommon of Williston will build 18.3 kilowatts of solar on the EIC rooftop at 68 Merchants Row.

The Solar Center at Rutland Regional will be built on property surrounding two storm water retention ponds just south of Allen Street, adjacent to the hospital’s walking power.

Green Mountain Power will own and maintain the solar center under a 25-year lease agreement with Rutland Regional, crediting the hospital for 10 percent of the project’s output. The remaining energy will go onto the local electric grid and will be used by local GMP customers.


Thankful for Electricity!

In the aftermath of yet another natural disaster, one that left thousands upon thousands of people without power and transportation, and on this week of Thanksgiving, we felt it was appropriate to take a moment and appreciate electricity and the grid that powers our modern lives. Nothing helps you recognize what you have like losing it all – so in honor of those affected by Sandy and in the spirit of Thanksgiving, we want your help reflecting on the small to large electricity powered objects that influence our daily lives.

Here are some of the things that we appreciate:
Dan – Hospital refrigerators that keep organs alive.
Hilary – Servers that host the world wide web.
Allie – My freezer that allows me to eat healthy garden fresh veggies all year.
– Hot running water.
Sam – Anything that helps make food and cold beverages.
Kristi – lights – because I’m afraid of the dark.
James – The machines that make solar technology possible, of course.
Kate – my coffee grinder so I can make fresh french press coffee every morning.

Your turn – what electricity powered technologies do you most appreciate?!

Learn more about SunCommon.

At SunCommon, our culture is intentional, and we value it deeply. We celebrate open and honest communication, hard work, creativity, cross-functional collaboration, high energy, good play, deep networking and acknowledging that we’ll each make mistakes and learn from them.

Meet Dayton

As a member of the Air National Guard, Dayton, has been away from us for a few weeks on training drills, however, this week we say goodbye to him for 6 months as he embarks on his mission to Afghanistan. Dayton was the third designer to join the SunCommon family back in April and has been a crucial part of the company’s progress.
We’ll miss his enthusiastic weekly meeting highlights, fluffer nutter sandwiches, jokes and ever positive presence.

What inspired you to become a solar engineer/designer?

I first wanted to go into the building industry and began my education at Vermont Tech in Architectural Engineering.  There, I was introduced to the Sustainable Design program and I loved everything about it. I knew I wanted to be in the renewable energy business.

What is the most fun and or most rewarding part of your job?

The best part is that this job is never boring.  The solar industry changes constantly and it seems like I am learning something new everyday.  Creating an solar design is like meshing art and electrical into one puzzle.  I also really like the variety in the projects –  one day, I might do a few roof mounted designs for small families and the next I will work on a massive ground mount system for a farm.

How does your work in the Air National Guard compliment your work as a solar designer? Where is there cross over?

I first joined the unit I’m with now because it offered me the chance to learn more about construction.  Work on different projects all over the world, in varying fields has really broadened my knowledge of civil engineering and building systems.  I am always able to bring something I learned back and forth from drills.

What are you going to miss most about SunCommon?

I will definitely miss the people here.  I have never worked with such a great bunch of people and such a great business. I’ve felt warm and welcomed ever since I started and I can’t wait to come back.

Featured FAQ: How do you size a solar system?

At SunCommon, we aim to completely replace a home’s electric bill with solar power. To figure out how many panels your home needs, we’ll take a look at your current electric bill and work with you to think through any upcoming changes in your family or to your home that would change your use of electricity – up or down.

One of the best aspects of net metering is that you are able to size your solar system for a whole year of use, instead of day-by-day. On a cloudy or rainy day when the panels are creating less energy, you don’t have to worry about running out of juice and spending the evening navigating by candlelight. As romantic as that may sound, we all have to admit that we are accustomed to a certain quality of life wherein we simply don’t have to worry about having power when we need it. So when it comes time to design your solar system, we thought it would be helpful to put together a list of the factors that we to take into consideration.

How many people live in the house?

Do you have kids who will soon have insatiable appetites to technologies such as laptops and cell phones? Babies on the way?

Are you anticipating any of the following additions?
– Hot Tub
– Electric Car
– An addition

How efficient are your appliances? Do you plan to upgrade them soon? Would you consider switching your hot water heater, refrigerator, stove, etc. to electric?

When you talk to a SunCommon solar evaluator, they will make sure to cover all the bases. If you do anticipate changes, we will work with you to calculate how much additional energy you’ll need to produce and design your solar system accordingly. So if you haven’t yet – head over to our little form and set up your solar evaluation today!

Cheers to Energy!

How does solar work?

Even with all this information about solar, you may be wondering the most basic, how does solar work? I thought it was too cloudy in Vermont to have solar panels? Do I still pay a utility bill? The basics of solar are relatively simple. Find out how solar works by clicking below.