Solar for Farms is a Cash Crop

Lowland Farm Solar Customer - solar for farms

Solar for Farms is a Cash Crop

Between state and federal incentives, and the ability to offset rising utility costs, there are many outstanding financial reasons for installing solar at your commercial farm. Not to mention: climate change and its effect on weather are heavily impacting farms, so taking steps to reduce our carbon impact (like going solar) is critical for all of us depending on healthy farms and a healthy planet.

Starting with the financials

A typical for-profit farm is eligible for a 26% federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) plus depreciation. That depreciation can be taken over time or all in one year, which gives farms with solar some good financial flexibility.

What does that mean in terms of dollars and cents? Almost half of the cost of installing a commercial solar system is covered by tax credits, incentives, and depreciation. In addition, through net metering, farms with solar can “bank” excess electricity produced by their solar panels as credits on their utility bill to use during times when the sun isn’t shining, or if there’s snow covering the panels. All in all, the payback timeline on a commercial solar system ranges from 5 to 10 years. After that, you’ve got free electricity for the life of the solar system.

Non-profit farms also have options for using solar power to lock in their current and future energy costs. With a special CPACE loan, farm owners can borrow off their property value, so there is no out-of-pocket expense to implement solar.

The power of community

The financial benefits of farms with solar don’t need to stop at the farm. “Remote crediting” is a relatively recent development whereby excess solar power that is not used by the farm can be assigned to other power consumers on the same utility, such as employees or neighbors.


“As dairy farmers, it’s very important for us to budget our expenses to remain a viable business. When the CSA program at SunCommon was created, we knew we had found a great fit. By hosting a CSA, we have secured predictable, constant electricity rates for our farm and also developed a new form of the working landscape.” 

— Mark Magnan, Magnan Brothers Dairy

 

Scaling up from there, farms with excess or unused property can host a community solar array (CSA), which is a big-return investment. Depending on the size of the array, community solar installations can generate power for the farm’s own use plus the use of up to 50 additional homes. That can provide a substantial and predictable stream of income for farm owners.

Truly Sustainable Agriculture

Going organic and implementing sustainable soil and water practices are important to many farms’ sustainability plans. But if you’re not factoring in energy use as a part of your overall environmental strategy, you’re missing a big piece of the puzzle. We’ve already talked about the financial side, so now let’s consider the less-quantifiable benefits of going solar.

These days, customers care about sustainability, and they’ll feel good supporting businesses that share their values. Having a publicly visible commitment to clean energy in the form of an onsite solar system isn’t just good for PR and social media, it can be a draw for visitors. Many of our solar customers report that the addition of shaded picnic areas beneath solar canopies, solar powered EV charging stations, and even just plain old panels on the roof have had positive impacts on farm visits and store sales.

Reap the Rewards of Commercial Solar

Many of our customers call the decision to install solar for farms a no-brainer — especially those partnering with Organic Valley. Organic Valley has offered their co-op member farmers the opportunity to solarize their barn roofs at no upfront cost and with zero debt, pus the benefit of savings on their electric bill. We’d call that a no-brainer, too!

organic valley co-op choiniere dairy farm in vermont

Have we planted a seed of interest?
Give a Solar Advisor a call today!

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Lawson’s Finest Liquids in Waitsfield Goes Solar with SunCommon

Introducing the “Sunshine Canopy” at Lawson’s Finest Liquids in Waitsfield

We’re proud to help businesses find solar solutions that work for them.

The largest Solar Canopy in the state of Vermont is now complete at the company’s Brewery and Taproom in Waitsfield, Vermont.

“From the beginning we set out to be the finest, source the best ingredients, invest in state-of-the-art equipment, brew the best beer possible and cultivate healthy, vibrant communities. That’s why our efforts in sustainability and striving to offset our brewery’s utility bill through renewable energy are so important to us.”

Sean Lawson, CEO and Founding Brewer at Lawson’s Finest Liquids

The “Sunshine Canopy” produces enough energy to power 50% of Lawson’s Waitsfield operations — equal to the brewing and pouring of up to 2,834,590 beers a year, or 7,766 a DAY!

Check out the full story here.

Ready to go solar at your business?

495 panels

System Size

$44,500 per year

Annual Savings

240,000 kWh

Est. Annual Energy Production

2,818

Equivalent Number of Trees Planted Annually

suncommon employee in front of lawson's finest solar canopy

The program is currently accepting new Organic Valley farmers to join the clean energy revolution!

Not an Organic Valley Farmer? We help dozens of farms go solar every year, whether they are part of a bigger cooperative or not.

Get in touch to find out how solar can work for your business:

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What Are B Corporations, and Why Are They Important?

What Are B Corporations, and Why Are They Important?

SunCommon Tree Planting Day 2021

When it comes to the important purchases in our lives, we’ve never had more options to select from. Should you make your choice based on price? Quality? Customer reviews? Or perhaps the company behind the product is just as important to consider. Many businesses exist solely to make a profit, while others are established to also create a positive social or environmental impact. One way to know how a company stacks up is through third party certifications — like the stamp of a Certified B Corporation.

Certified B Corporation Logo with sparkle

How does a company become a B Corp?

Becoming a Certified B Corporation entails a rigorous evaluation process, administered by the non-profit B Lab, in which companies must showcase their business impact in five key areas: environment, workers, community impact, company governance, and customers. B Corps are also obligated to be accountable to and create benefit for all stakeholders — not just shareholders.

SunCommon was created with the purpose of addressing the climate crisis by breaking down the barriers to clean energy, and we’ve been a Certified B Corp from the very start. While Certified B Corps must score at least 80 out of 200 on B Lab’s annual assessment, and the median score is an 84, SunCommon scored 106.1 in our most recent certification!

Every decision is an opportunity to live our values.

Obtaining B Corp status also requires that businesses honor a triple-bottom-line commitment to people (employees, customers, and communities), planet (we focus on our proud local roots in both New York and Vermont, as well as the world at large as we work to combat climate change), and profit. In other words, this commitment ensures that profits are not valued above people or planet.

We believes that every business decision is an opportunity to live these values. For example, when needing to buy new company cars, we committed to buying electric vehicles whenever possible, and when we source our materials, we focus as much as we can on local vendors (in order to reduce our carbon footprint) as well as on vendors who share our commitment to environmental and social justice.

Chevy Bolt Under Solar Canopy

As you can see, the B Corp stamp represents much more than just providing quality products or exceptional service; any company can buy and sell things, but a B Corp certification requires that companies bring immense care into every aspect of their work. So while reading customer reviews and making sure you’re getting a quality product are certainly good ideas, choosing a Certified B Corp means you’re also making a positive impact in the world by voting with your dollar.


If going solar with a Certified B Corporation sounds good to you, give us a shout! We’ll answer any questions and then start rolling up our sleeves for you right away.

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Selling a Solar Home Checklist

Selling a house with solar is pretty straightforward, but we’re here to make it even easier.

We worked with realtors to develop a Selling a Solar Home Check List to make sure you get the value you deserve.

Selling a house with solar? Following the steps below will help realtors, appraisers, lenders, and future buyers get an accurate valuation of your solar home. While we cannot guarantee your home’s proper valuation, this procedure is recommended by real estate professionals nationwide.

Please note that solar power is a foreign object to many in the real estate industry, so advocating for professionals competent in solar homes is strongly advised.

Information you should collect when selling a solar home

Have these documents prominently displayed during showings

suncommon solar installation
Solar Adds Value To Your Property, Don't Leave Money on the Table

Solar System Plans

  • Physical Layout
  • Electrical Maps

Utility Records of Energy Use

  • Example of bill(s) – a Fall bill is best as it identifies the credits accrued.

Product and Service Guarantees

  • Solar Panels
  • Solar Inverter
  • Home Energy Storage (if applicable)
  • Service Guarantee

Documents you need to complete

You have a right to a fair appraisal. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and FHA guidelines require lenders to choose competent appraisers, i.e. those with the knowledge and experience required to perform a professional quality appraisal for your specific geographic location and property type. Refer to the following documents as you work with your lender to make sure you get the best value when selling a house with solar.

Read & fill out The Appraisal Institute’s Appraised Value & Energy Efficiency: Getting it Right to ensure your lender hires a competent appraiser.

This document acts as a guideline for communication strategies between buyers and lenders to ensure proper valuation for a home that has performance features. This document also holds the descriptions from the FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac Guidelines.

Complete the Appraisal Institute’s Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum form. This should be presented to your appraiser. If you don’t have all the information for the form, contact your solar installer for information regarding those specifications

This is a form that can be filled out by the homeowner or certified contractor to report all relevant home performance upgrades, including solar system specifications. The form can support the appraiser in making a fair valuation of the home.

Print results from PV Value Tool

The PV value tool can be used by appraisers, homeowners and real estate professionals alike to get an accurate valuation of a home solar system. There are number of system details that you should know and other metrics where a default can be used and not significantly impact the stated value.

Have a copy of a completed Home Energy Rating System (HERS) report, this is valuable if available.

Documents you need to complete

You have a right to a fair appraisal. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and FHA guidelines require lenders to choose competent appraisers, i.e. those with the knowledge and experience required to perform a professional quality appraisal for your specific geographic location and property type. Refer to the following documents as you work with your lender to make sure you get the best value when selling a house with solar.

Read & fill out The Appraisal Institute’s Appraised Value & Energy Efficiency: Getting it Right to ensure your lender hires a competent appraiser.

This document acts as a guideline for communication strategies between buyers and lenders to ensure proper valuation for a home that has performance features. This document also holds the descriptions from the FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac Guidelines.

Complete the Appraisal Institute’s Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum form. This should be presented to your appraiser. If you don’t have all the information for the form, contact your solar installer for information regarding those specifications

This is a form that can be filled out by the homeowner or certified contractor to report all relevant home performance upgrades, including solar system specifications. The form can support the appraiser in making a fair valuation of the home.

Print results from PV Value Tool

The PV value tool can be used by appraisers, homeowners and real estate professionals alike to get an accurate valuation of a home solar system. There are number of system details that you should know and other metrics where a default can be used and not significantly impact the stated value.

Have a copy of a completed Home Energy Rating System (HERS) report, this is valuable if available.

Next, ensure competent appraisers are hired.

What can you do, you ask?

Attach supporting documents to MLS listings.

Provide documentation to the lender through a lender letter and the Residential Green Home Addendum.

While talking to an appraiser, don’t be afraid to ask, ”Do you have experience in appraising a house with solar? What training do you have?” If they have none, reach out to the lender, cancel the visit and ask for a competent appraisal in this property type.

While the appraiser is there, be there too! You and the homeowner are able to be resources to the builder, broker, agent and seller. You can provide valuable information to the appraiser with all the documents you have provided! Yes, appraisers can’t be pressured by a load officer or others involved while arrive at a value conclusion, but you can help provide the facts!


Got a question for a SunCommon professional?

Submit your comment/question here:


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Our Guide to Building a New House with Solar

Our Guide to Building a House with Solar

There are a lot of advantages to building a modern, efficient, and “smart” home. Pairing efficient building design with the latest technology, like heat pumps, energy efficient appliances, solar, and battery storage can reduce your energy bill significantly, or (if you opt for solar) eliminate it entirely.

building a house with solar

Building a new home?

Design with solar in mind! 

Solar is a smart addition for new homes, and SunCommon has years of experience working with contractors, builders, and architects to incorporate solar right into a home’s design. Orientation and design can have a big impact on the efficiency of the solar system, so here are some of the details to keep in mind as you start dreaming-up the plans for your new home. To download our complete guide, use the form at the bottom of the page. 

SunCommon offers a classic roof or ground solar array, a timber-framed Solar Canopy, or even integrated Tesla Solar Roof, any of which can be paired with an energy storage system.


Orientation to the Sun

An ideal roof for solar has a large surface facing south, southeast, or southwest. For a Solar Canopy or ground array, choose a sunny spot in your yard that’s flat or gently sloped, ideally within 150’ of your home’s utility room or meter. 

Obstructions & Shading

A wide-open roof is best. Obstructions like chimneys, vent pipes, dormers, and skylights can cast a shadow and limit the space available for your solar system. Tree shading will also factor in, so it’s best to have a shade-free roof from roughly 9 AM to 3 PM.

Roof Structure

To optimize solar production, a south-facing roof pitch between 30 to 35 degrees is recommended, though we can install solar on roofs up to 45 degrees. For east- or west-facing roofs, a pitch between 10 to 30 degrees is best. Any roof 10 degrees or less will require a professional structural review to verify the roof can accommodate the added weight of a system.

Roofing Material

Standing Seam Metal
These roofs are ideal because they will last as long as your solar system (25+ years). Our design team can work with your roofing contractor to install junction boxes, which will allow the wiring to be concealed and hidden. 

Asphalt Shingles
We recommend a 30-year rated shingle. Talk to your contractor about using a minimum of 1/2” OSB or ⅝” plywood sheathing on the roof. 

Corrugated Metal
Solar can only be installed on this surface when certain conditions are met. Please get in touch with us before selecting corrugated metal and we’ll discuss options that can accommodate solar. 

Tesla Solar Roof
A seamless design choice that uses solar shingles as roofing material. 

Electrical

Arguably the most important element of any solar design. Please let your electrical contractor know right away that you are planning to incorporate solar into your new build. If SunCommon is involved in the process early on, we can work with your contractor to choose equipment that is preferred for solar interconnections. 

There are several electrical components to consider as it relates to solar: service size, main service panel location, utility requirements and existing utility infrastructure.

To learn more and view specifics, complete the form below to download our complete Building a House with Solar Guide, or give us a call at 802-882-8170.

electrical boxes


Ready to get started?

Use the form below to download the complete
Building a Home with Solar Guide

1. The Roof (Azimuth)

A west-facing roof isn’t a dealbreaker anymore

Let’s start with the roof.  An ideal roof has a large, uninterrupted surface facing south, southeast, or southwest.  However, given advances in solar module technology and efficiencies that make them more affordable, a purely due-south roof is no longer a prerequisite. A well-producing solar home should have an orientation or “azimuth” within 90 degrees of true south. The closer the solar azimuth is to 180 degrees true south the better the system will produce. Roof angles are also something to consider. A roof pitch between 5 and 12 is ideal. The lower the slope, the less production you will see in the winter.

A good roof for solar is an empty roof; uninterrupted. That means keep your chimneys, vent pipes, dormers, and skylights away from that nice big southern expanse! We can work around these things if we have to, but if you want to maximize production, have wide-open spaces.

2. Trees

Shade on panels means less production

When you’re deciding where you want to put your home on your land it is best to avoid any trees on the solar side.  Planting a gorgeous maple in front of your array will mean shadowed solar panels in a few years.  Go ahead and tuck the northern side of your home into the trees, but any tree that casts a shadow on your solar roof for any significant portion of the day is no good for your system’s production.

3. Roof Material

Anything but cedar and slate

Roof composition really matters when building a house with solar. Asphalt shingles or metal roofs are great, slate and cedar shingles are a no go.

With asphalt roofs, it is important to choose a shingle that will last as long as your solar system. A 30-year rated shingle would be best. A minimum 3/8” sheathing on the roof is recommended. Standing seam metal roofs are ideal because the roof material will last as long as your solar system. Corrugated metal roofs are also an option. Our solar attachments are happiest if your corrugated is installed directly on top of plywood decking.

4. House Electrical

A benefit of incorporating solar into your new construction is that we will often be able to integrate the wire or pipe run into your building. We will work with you or your contractor on the specifics to make sure that you get a high-producing and aesthetically-pleasing solar system.

Our licensed electricians can run conduit and wire while your walls are open. Then, as soon as you have a roof, we’ll be happy to come out, install your solar system and celebrate with you as your meter runs backwards.

5. PV Systems Add Weight

A standard PV system adds less than 3lbs per square foot on the roof. Making sure your roof can support this weight across the house is important and your contractor should be able to factor this added weight into the design.

6. What We Need From You

In order to facilitate a Design and a cost estimate for your PV system, we will need some information about your project. Some of the things we will need are:

  • Contractor Phone Numbers (if any)
  • Design/ Architectural Drawings
  • Structural Information
  • Electrical Information
  • Building Timeline

To summarize, when building a house with solar, you want a roof that is unshaded and free of obstructions such as dormers, chimneys, or skylights; made of solar-friendly materials such as metal or asphalt shingle; and structurally supported by accounting for the weight of the panels and leaving room for the necessary electrical work to connect the panels to your circuitry.

We hope this information will be useful while you work on your home. Remember these are strictly recommendations and you should build your home to how you prefer it. If you (or your contractor) have any questions about how to better integrate your new home project into the solar system, our engineering team will be happy to assist you!

Have any specific questions, we’re happy to answer them here or via email.

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SMA Sunny Boy Inverters

SMA SunnyBoy Inverters

  • SunCommon has installed several SMA Sunny Boy inverter models.
  • (Please note: your Sunny Boy inverter may be branded SunPower.  This is common for SunPower lease customers).
  • From left to right, the inverter models are: Sunny Boy SBXXXX-USSunny Boy SBXXXXTL-USSunny Boy  SBXXXXTL-US-22*.
  • *This is the newest model used in ground mounted installations since 2020.

Getting to know your SMA SunnyBoy Inverter

To illuminate the screen, knock (like you would on a door) on the inverter in the space above the screen.

  • Knocking will cycle through the daily energy values of the past 16 days and switch to the next text line at the bottom of the screen. 
  • Additional displays will provide the firmware version, serial number, the Bluetooth NetID, and the specified country standard, and display language.
  • Continue to knock to move through each display screen.
customer-support-sunny-boy-inverter

The display updates the values of your PV system every 5 seconds. 

A) Knocking icon. (This icon will illuminate during reboot after an Arc fault.  If it appears, knock on the inverter to clear it.)

B) Graph of system production.

C) Error icons.  If illuminated, take a photo of any errors displayed in “H” and contact support@suncommon.com.

D) Current power.

E) Daily energy.

F) Total energy generated since the inverter was installed.

G) Display of enabled functions.

H) Text line for displaying an event or error.


Troubleshooting

Common Error Messages

If you have Ground/Earth Faults or Isolation Errors, do not attempt to power cycle your device because of electrical hazards. Please contact our Customer Support Team.

1. Arc Fault Detected/Check DC Generator/AFCI detected
Power-cycle the inverter (see instructions below), and watch the inverter screen after rebooting it. You should see a prompt to knock on the inverter to officially clear the error code.

2. Unstable Operation
This typically is caused by snow on panels, when there is not enough input on the DC side. If your panels are clear of snow, get in touch with our Customer Support Team.

3. Fac-Bfr (Grid Frequency Disturbance)
This will happen when the power is out, or if the inverter has disconnected from the power distribution grid.
It could also be caused by a tripped breaker or blown fuse. To resolve, first check your breaker (if possible) and then contact our Customer Support Team .

4. K-1 Open
Error requiring replacement. Please contact our Customer Support Team with a photo of the error code to start the warranty process.


How to Power-Cycle your SMA Sunny Boy Inverter:

1) Turn off the DC disconnect. This is a dial (black or white) located on the underside or along the side of the inverter. Please reference the photo of your model inverter from above to see where the dial is located. Simply turn it to the “off” position.

2) Turn off your system’s AC disconnect. This is located outside next to your utility meter. Look for a grey box labeled AC Disconnect with a lever that you’ll pull down into the “off” position. If you do not see a grey box labeled AC disconnect, look for a breaker underneath your Net Meter (ConnectDER).  You will need to turn the breaker off.  To do this, unscrew the grey cover to access the breaker. See reference photos.

3) Wait 5 minutes and then turn them back on in reverse order. Throw the AC lever or breaker back to the “on” position and turn the dial on the inverter back to the “on” position.

4) If you are resetting an “Arc Detect” code. Watch the inverter screen after rebooting it for the Knocking icon to illuminate and knock on the inverter to clear the code.

After these steps, the inverter will start to turn back on and may take a minute or two to reboot. You should see the main screen as normal once the reboot is complete with no error message. If the issue persists, please contact support@suncommon.com.

AC Disconnect Lever next to utility meter
AC Disconnect Lever next to utility meter
AC disconnect underneath the ConnectDER

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Fact or Fiction: Solar Panels Are Hazardous for the Environment

🤔 Fact or Fiction: Solar Panels Are Hazardous

As a leading solar installer across New York and Vermont, we field a lot of questions like:

  • “Are solar panels recyclable?”
  • “What happens to solar panels once they’re no longer in use?”
  • Are solar panels  hazardous for the environment?

Most of you who are interested in clean energy care a lot about the Earth, so your concern for the full impact of solar is understandable. At SunCommon, we believe that everyone deserves a healthy environment and a brighter future — and that doesn’t include coming up with solutions that create more problems. So we’re happy to tell you…

solar panel recycling process

Solar panels CAN be recycled!

Our planet has finite resources and finite space, so anything that can be recycled should be — including solar panels! Solar panels are mostly made of glass and aluminum, both of which are widely recyclable. Europe already requires recycling, and the United States will soon follow suit as the amount of deployed solar across the country increases.

But what if they do end up in a landfill?

All manufacturers of high-quality silicon solar panels go through an EPA-prescribed testing process that can identify whether a substance will present a hazard if it one day ends up in a landfill. The procedure involves destroying solar panels in a laboratory and measuring the chemicals that come out.

The high-quality crystalline silicon panels installed by SunCommon at homes and businesses in New York and Vermont all fall below the EPA’s limits for hazardous materials, which means they will not pose a hazard if thrown into a landfill.

Many other everyday items fall above the EPA’s hazardous material thresholds, including CFL bulbs, laptops, and cell phones. In fact, a single lead acid car battery is many times worse for the environment than a whole field of solar panels.

community-solar-array-in-red-hook-new-york

A community case study:

SunCommon’s Community Solar Array (CSA) in Red Hook, NY was built on top of the town’s water well field. When the project was first proposed, many folks in Red Hook were understandably concerned about what could happen if the panels were damaged and the effect that would have on the town’s water supply. 

After we explained the EPA testing process and the results for the type of panels we use, the concern was alleviated. Today, 250 households and 30 town buildings rely on the Red Hook CSA for their energy needs! 

Everyone who’s gone solar with SunCommon can rest assured knowing they’ve invested in a clean energy future that won’t just create another environmental issue down the road.

Ready to commit to a clean energy future?

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Affordable Power to the People

affordable power with solar from suncommon

(Affordable) Power to the People

Every day at SunCommon, we look for new ways to advance our mission of tearing down barriers to clean energy and using our business as a force for good. One way we do that is by continually evaluating and implementing products and programs that make solar financially accessible to as many people as possible.

Cost is often a barrier for folks switching to renewable power, so we provide our customers with three different financing options. By keeping upfront costs, monthly payments, and interest rates as low as possible, we help our customers save thousands of dollars over the lifetime of their solar installation compared to what they would have paid their utility for electricity.

1. Pay in full upfront

For those that can afford it, paying for solar panels outright without financing does offer the best bang for your buck. Apart from your utility’s grid service fees (typically $15-30 per billing cycle), you will pay nothing, or nearly so, for your electricity every month, and you will have made an interest-free, debt-free investment in your energy-independent future. Because systems generally last more than 30 years, customers can expect to recoup the initial cost in 12-18 years. That’s essentially free energy for half of the life of your solar system.

2. Short-term loans that meet (or beat) your utility bill

SunCommon has partnered with VSECU, a Vermont-based credit union, to offer 12-year financing plans with zero down-payment and interest rates low enough to match or beat what you currently pay your utility each month. Switching to a fixed solar loan payment like this can also protect you from utility rate increases down the road. And once your loan term is up, your energy is essentially free for the remaining life of your solar system. (Talk about affordable power!)

3. Even lower monthly payments

Our newest financing option through Sunlight Financial, a national energy lender, is a 20-year loan, with interest rates as low as 0.99%, and the lowest monthly payments we’ve ever been able to offer. What’s more, Sunlight has lowered the minimum credit score requirement to 640, which opens up financing to even more potential customers. And Sunlight can finance projects up to $100,000 (versus the more standard $60,000) — this means that for solar installations requiring a new roof, you can bundle both projects into a single loan at an interest rate likely lower than a home equity loan or line of credit. And of course, once that 20-year loan is paid off, your energy is free for the remaining life of the panels.

Don’t forget there are also federal tax credits and state incentives that can make your solar installation even more affordable. The state incentives are slightly different in New York versus Vermont, and all incentives and tax credits do change with time, so we suggest talking to a clean energy expert (like us!) to get the most up-to-date information.

If you’re reading this, you might already be sold on many of the benefits of going solar, such as doing a good thing for the planet, or becoming more energy independent. Our aim is to make sure that going solar also has financial benefits for as many people as possible, so that we can all play a part in building a brighter clean energy future.

Ready to dig into the numbers and make affordable power a reality?

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Organic Valley Farm Goes Solar with SunCommon

Organic Valley

We take pride in helping businesses find the solar solutions that work for them.

SunCommon is thrilled to offer an innovative new program to Organic Valley farmers to help them go solar with zero upfront costs. Organic Valley is the nation’s largest farmer-owned organic cooperative with a footprint of 100+ Vermont farms.

“Organic Valley is going one step further to support its farmer-members by supporting the installation of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. We’re excited to help family farmers in Vermont to lower their energy costs and improve the bottom line of their independently-owned farms.”

Nicole Rakobitsch, Director of Sustainability at Organic Valley

We take pride in helping businesses find the solar solutions that work for them.

SunCommon is thrilled to offer an innovative new program to Organic Valley farmers to help them go solar with zero upfront costs. Organic Valley is the nation’s largest farmer-owned organic cooperative with a footprint of 100+ Vermont farms.

“Organic Valley is going one step further to support its farmer-members by supporting the installation of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. We’re excited to help family farmers in Vermont to lower their energy costs and improve the bottom line of their independently-owned farms.”

Nicole Rakobitsch, Director of Sustainability at Organic Valley

Choiniere Family - Organic Valley

Meet the Choiniere Family

The Choiniere family was one of the first co-op members to jump at the opportunity to switch to clean energy and save money with this new program. They engaged SunCommon in two projects to place solar panels on existing buildings on their 500-acre property. Those projects will produce an estimated 115,500 kWh annually with a projected annual cost savings totaling more than $20,000.

“In the case of the Organic Valley Program, it was imperative that farms have no upfront costs, and that the projects would start saving them money from the first year. We have years of experience with financiers who share our values and with their support we were able to create this program for Organic Valley farmers that helps make the farms more sustainable, environmentally and financially.”

Mike McCarthy, Commercial Solar Project Consultant at SunCommon

Mike McCarthy

Check out the full SunCommon x Organic Valley press release here.

We take pride in helping businesses find the solar solutions that work for them.

SunCommon is thrilled to offer an innovative new program to Organic Valley farmers to help them go solar with zero upfront costs. Organic Valley is the nation’s largest farmer-owned organic cooperative with a footprint of 100+ Vermont farms.

“Organic Valley is going one step further to support its farmer-members by supporting the installation of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. We’re excited to help family farmers in Vermont to lower their energy costs and improve the bottom line of their independently-owned farms.”

Nicole Rakobitsch, Director of Sustainability at Organic Valley

Choiniere Family - Organic Valley

Meet the Choiniere Family

The Choiniere family was one of the first co-op members to jump at the opportunity to switch to clean energy and save money with this new program. They engaged SunCommon in two projects to place solar panels on existing buildings on their 500-acre property. Those projects will produce an estimated 115,500 kWh annually with a projected annual cost savings totaling more than $20,000.

An Opportunity for a Brighter Future

Together, we’ve developed an innovative program for Organic Valley co-op members to go solar at no upfront cost, while saving them money on their electric bills and taking on zero debt.

“In the case of the Organic Valley Program, it was imperative that farms have no upfront costs, and that the projects would start saving them money from the first year. We have years of experience with financiers who share our values and with their support we were able to create this program for Organic Valley farmers that helps make the farms more sustainable, environmentally and financially.”

Mike McCarthy, Commercial Solar Project Consultant at SunCommon

Mike McCarthy

“It Just Makes Sense”

Farmers tell us time and time again that solar power just makes sense. The sun fuels all life on earth, so why not your electric power too?

Check out the full SunCommon x Organic Valley press release here.


Ready to go solar at your farm?

197 panels

System Size

$3,000+ per year

Annual Savings

$0

Up Front Cost

$0

Debt Liability to Farm

suncommon solar installer with panel at choiniere farm organic valley coop

The program is currently accepting new Organic Valley farmers to join the clean energy revolution!

Not an Organic Valley Farmer? We help dozens of farms go solar every year, whether they are part of a bigger cooperative or not.

Organic Valley

Get in touch to find out how solar can work for your farm:

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Fall Activities in New York and Vermont

leaf peeping is one of the best fall activities

You Won’t Be-LEAF These Awesome Fall Activities 🍁

It’s happening: fall is unfurling right before our eyes! Every day brings another little pop of color here, a corn maze there, and cider donuts are duking it out with everything pumpkin spice. In New England and New York’s higher elevations, peak leaf-peeping season is just about here. So if you haven’t had a weekend foliage getaway or a day-cation road trip through Vermont or New York, there’s no better time than right now. Here are some ideas to jumpstart your planning!

suncommon loves vermont state parks

Our Favorite Fall Activities in New York and Vermont:

  1. Take a Hike — The Hiking Project is a terrific resource not just for finding a trail but for finding the right trail for your interest, fitness level, and experience.
  2. Go Back in Time — New England is a treasure trove of historic sites. Explore them with the help of Vermont’s Historic Sites and New York State’s Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
  3. Support Local Farms — Farm visits are a great way to celebrate the harvest while supporting local agriculture. New York Farm Tours and Vermont Vacation sites have gathered some of the season’s best farm activities including markets, farm tours, and pick your own operations.

Solar-Powered Fall Fun

If you’re looking for more specific suggestions, we’ve got those too — and they just so happen to be powered by SunCommon solar installations! (Please note: full participation at a few of these spots may be limited to ages 21+, but others offer family-friendly activities for all your road-trippers!)

In New York’s Capital District and Hudson Valley:

Hand Melon Farm in Greenwich, NY produces over 140 varieties of fruits, vegetables, corn, and ornamental fall gourds. They use sustainable practices, including only minimal use of pesticides. In 2014, they expanded their environmental commitment by adding a solar array. Stop by to learn more about the installation and hit the field to pick your own pumpkins!

Dutch’s Spirits at Harvest Homestead Farm in Pine Plains, NY is a farm distillery and tasting room. We helped them distill sunshine into electricity with a solar installation that provides power to their process and operations. Sample their Sugar Wash Moonshine, take a tour, and learn about the farm’s fascinating bootleg history. They’ve also got family-friendly activities including Pizza & A Movie Fridays and Dutch’s Food Truck on the Great Lawn.

Mead Orchards in Tivoli, NY dates back to 1916, so you know these are some deep roots. In the summer, there’s a terrific selection of fruit you can pick yourself: strawberries, blueberries, plums, cherries, and peaches. This time of year, the apples and pumpkins are ready for you. We installed their barn roof solar array back in 2019, so it’s no longer just the fruit trees benefiting from the sunshine!

vermont artisan coffee with suncommon solar canopy

In Vermont:

Caledonia Spirits in Montpelier, VT makes its award-winning Barr Hill Gin from raw honey. It’s a fascinating process to learn about on a quick tour, or you can simply sip the afternoon away with their delicious cocktails on the patio. We installed a rooftop solar array in 2018 to power their distilling process and operations

The Alchemist in Stowe, VT is home to one of the most celebrated IPAs in the beer world: Heady Topper. Their brewery tours fill up fast in the foliage season, so if you don’t get tickets, you can just hang in the beer garden or get a couple of 4-packs to go. The Alchemist went solar in 2018, adding a 112-panel array to their existing membership in a Community Solar Array. Being the brew-gooders they are, they donate all the excess power they generate to the nearby Waterbury Senior Center.

Vermont Artisan Coffee & Tea Co. in Stowe, VT is a terrific place to warm up and fuel up on a brisk fall day. Their coffee bar is open daily and stocked with sustainably sourced coffee and tea. For a true taste of Vermont, park your road-trip-vehicle-of-choice under their beautiful solar canopy, order a maple latte, and take in the stunning mountainside view!

There’s so much to savor about this season, and we’re lucky to be able to find a bounty of fall activities in New York and Vermont. Just hop in the car and hit the road!

And if you’re a business or homeowner ready to make hay with solar while the sun shines, we’re here for you:

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