RUTLAND, Vt. – Rutland City Mayor Christopher Louras, Green Mountain Power’s Steve Costello, Rep. Stephen A. Carr of Brandon, and friends of SunCommon gathered at the Small Dog Electronics retail store in downtown Rutland to celebrate the solar company’s expansion into Rutland County and the opening of its southern Vermont satellite office within the downtown Rutland Small Dog store.
“I am thrilled to be expanding SunCommon into this new corner of the state – working with these wonderful local partners to dramatically increase the use of solar to power and heat our homes,” said Duane Peterson, SunCommon’s co-President. “SunCommon launched two years ago with a mission to take down the barriers to solar in order to make going solar easy and affordable for all Vermonters. We have helped nearly 1,000 households go solar thus far, and we are excited to extend our offerings to Rutland County residents.”
SunCommon’s program enables Vermonters to go solar at no upfront cost with a fixed monthly payment similar to the power bill that their solar replaces. Nearly 200 Rutland County residents had signed up to explore SunCommon’s program, provoking the company’s expansion to Rutland County.
Green Mountain Power and other energy partners have been pursuing solar-driven economic revitalization in Rutland by driving to make the area the “Solar Capital of New England.” Steve Costello, VP of Generation and Energy Innovation at GMP, said, “We are thrilled to welcome SunCommon to Rutland, as the company brings with it options for solar at no upfront cost and will contribute to our Solar Capital initiative. People in the industry are taking notice of Rutland, and SunCommon’s arrival is further evidence that energy will play a continuing and increasingly important role in the community’s social and economic future.”
The company also runs a program to offset homeowners heating bills with solar-powered heat. The program promises big savings for Vermonters hit hard by winter fuel oil and propane bills, using a combination of solar power and indoor heating and cooling units called heat pumps.
Pam Stefanek, a Benson farmer, conservation professional and SunCommon customer, spoke to how solar has benefitted her family. “Since going solar, we’ve installed air source heat pumps – high-efficiency units that both heat and cool. Clean heat has been great to use instead of spending so much on fuel oil. We’ve had our SunCommon solar for about a year, and we’re glad to note that it’s produced even more than what SunCommon projected.”
Leslie Cadwell, a Castleton homeowner and SunCommon customer whose system was installed at the beginning of the year, also reported good news from her solar experience. “I’m racking up solar credit and haven’t paid an electrical bill in months,” she said. “When the SunCommon crew came to install my solar, one of them was a recent high school graduate who was excited to be entering the solar industry. I’m delighted that this growing clean energy industry is providing jobs for young people so that we can retain great kids in our state.”
Rutland City Major Chris Louras emphasized the positive economic impacts he sees from SunCommon investing in Rutland. “Rutland is a great place filled with great people and local businesses,” said the Mayor. “We love to welcome more! I am particularly excited that SunCommon is joining Rutland County’s growing green energy sector. And it’s always a good sign when businesses have to double up to find store space in our downtown!”
Emily Dolloff, Director of Retail and Service Operations at Small Dog Electronics, welcomed SunCommon to the Macintosh computer company’s Rutland retail space. “It’s an easy fit to share a space with a values-led business like SunCommon. When we first came to Rutland a year or so ago, half of West St. was empty. Since then, the Bakery has come in, other businesses, and now the whole block is full. We’re glad to have friends join us in what is now a bustling downtown, and to be working with other clean technology partners in building up Rutland’s local economy with Vermont-owned, socially-responsible businesses.”
Both Small Dog Electronics and SunCommon have long-standing roots with Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility. SunCommon, a Benefit Corporation, is legally obligated to operate with a triple bottom-line of people, planet, and profit. Said Peterson, SunCommon’s co-founder: “At SunCommon, we delight in making solar easy and affordable. SunCommon is helping everyday Vermonters be part of repowering our state with clean, safe, renewable energy. Finally, folks can save money by doing the right thing.”
SunCommon expects to install over 100 solar systems on Rutland County homes in the coming year, a number of those projects entailing both a solar and clean heating component.
The action is not just in the downtown area. Residents throughout every town in the county will be able to participate. Vermont State Representative Steve Carr spoke to a vision for places outside of Rutland City. “I’m excited that SunCommon and other businesses are driving towards a clean energy future in Rutland County. The benefits of local, clean energy solutions that work for everyday people are many, whether providing jobs for Vermonters, increasing home values or saving households money on their energy bills. A SunCommon solar advisor came to my house to provide a free solar assessment yesterday, and it was a great opportunity to learn more about solar in general as well as how it can save money for my family.”
As part of SunCommon’s Rutland County launch, and in concert with local partners, SunCommon will be offering a series of workshops in communities around Rutland County covering solar basics, its solar heating and cooling program, and community solar. Dates, times, and venues include:
–Solar 101: Brandon Town Hall (Downstairs), Tuesday, October 7th @ 7:00 pm
–Solar 101: Wallingford Town Hall (Auditorium), Wednesday, October 15th @ 7:00 pm
–Solar 101: Rutland Free Library (Fox Room), Wednesday, October 22nd @ 7:00 pm
–Solar 101: Pawlet (The Barn Restaurant & Tavern), Thursday, October 30th @ 5:30 pm (Free solar info and drinks on SunCommon, then a deal on your meal from The Barn!)
Visit SunCommon’s events page to find more Solar 101 opportunities as they arise.