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Posts Tagged ‘solar hot water heater’

Solar rules and regulations. Who needs them?

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

How crazy is it that in the state of Florida, where sunny days are the norm for nearly 365 days a year, there is no viable rooftop solar business?  As a recent article by Evan Halper in the LA Times pointed out, “….while Florida advertises itself as the Sunshine State, power company executives and regulators have worked successfully to keep most Floridians from using that sunshine to generate their own power.”

The simple reason is because power companies and regulators in Florida and other sun-heavy states like Virginia and South Carolina have consistently resisted creating incentives and regulations that would encourage solar development.  In fact, those states have put rules in place that actively work to block it.

The rationale behind this resistance is not so simple.  Many opponents argue that solar generation by homeowners and small solar arrays “takes away” from the ability of the utility companies to generate revenue that supports the cost of infrastructure and overhead.  Others bemoan the fact that federal and state government rebates for solar create a false economy for the consumer.  In some coal-producing states, the large-scale use of coal to fuel electricity generation sees solar as a threat to the local economy.

What can we learn from successful solar states like California, Massachusetts and Vermont?

Money Talks:   The California Solar Initiative (CSI) offers solar customers different incentive levels based on the performance of their solar panels encouraging consumers to install clean solar energy systems that can provide maximum solar generation.  They have rebate programs that target businesses, low-income households and multi-family affordable housing.  According to the CSI program website, the program has a total budget of $2.167 billion between 2007 and 2016 and a goal to install approximately 1,940 MW of new solar generation capacity.

Targeting Communities Works:  This year, the Solarize Upper Valley program in Vermont, in an initiative lead by Vital Communities, helped 120 homeowners across the rural Upper Valley region of Vermont and New Hampshire go solar.  These results prove the effectiveness of the Solarize model, which has been successfully deployed in Massachusetts and Connecticut in recent years.

Sharing is powerful:  In Vermont, flexible and convenient net metering regulations encourage communities, neighbors and businesses within the same utility service area to share the generation capacity from one solar array to the allocated benefit of all participants.

At the Energy Co-op of Vermont, we “think local” by offer a solar hot water heating program, Co-op Solar, that is designed to make solar simple and affordable for our members. Co-op Solar features deeply discounted solar hot water equipment  supplied by Sunward Systems, a Vermont business. Further savings come from a new $1,600 Efficiency Vermont discount, a 30% federal tax credit and a state rebate. In total, Co-op Solar brings solar hot water installation costs down by about $5,000 for each installation – see

Just imagine how successful a program like Co-op Solar could do in Florida, if only the rules allowed!



John Quinney is the General Manager of the Energy Co-op of Vermont, (ECVT) a member-owned heating fuel delivery and energy efficiency co-op founded in 2001.   ECVT provides energy and cost saving programs, heating oil, kerosene and wood pellet deliveries and heating equipment service, replacement and repair for over 2,500 households in northern Vermont.


Energy Co-op of Vermont Extends Deadline for Award-Winning Solar Program to July 1st

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

The Energy Co-op of Vermont announced that the deadline for the 2013 Co-op Solar program has been extended until July 1st, due to the high level of interest in the program and the continued availability of state incentive funds.  Since its launch in February, over 500 Vermonters have signed up for a free solar site assessment available through the program to see how much they can save by going solar.

Senator Bernie Sanders shared high praise for the program at the 2013 kick-off event saying, “What is particularly exciting about this program is that people can move in this direction without spending any more money on their fuel bills than they currently are, because they’re going to pay off their loan from the credit union by reduced fuel costs.  That is exactly the right direction to go.”  The 2012 Co-op Solar program was awarded the Vermont Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence on Tuesday at VBSR’s annual Spring Conference.

Deb Markowitz presents Governor’s Award to ECVT for Co-op Solar program

The state of Vermont offers a $900 – $1200 incentive towards the installation of the Co-op Solar systems through its Clean Energy Development Fund (CEDF).  A federal tax credit of 30% brings the net cost down even further.  Coupled with the discount through the Co-op, the cost of a typical system has been reduced by almost 50%.

Financing is also available through local banks and credit unions, helping the solar systems to be installed with little to no upfront costs.  “We are really excited about this program because we think that this is the kind of innovative marketing and innovative financing that solar hot water needs.” said Andrew Perchlik, Executive Director of CEDF.

Co-op Solar system mounted on a south-facing gable in Vermont

In addition to extending the program’s deadline, the service area has been expanded for 2013 and is open to any home or business owner in Northwestern and Central Vermont.  A Co-op Solar open house will be held Saturday, May 18th in Shelburne from 10am to 2pm at Sunward Systems (6221 Shelburne Road, Suite 210), the Vermont-based manufacturer of the solar hot water systems.

Attendees can learn more about how the solar systems work and sign up for the program.  Other educational events are planned and will be taking place in the Co-op Solar communities.  Interested participants can get more details and also sign up for a site assessment online at

Energy Co-op Receives Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award for Co-op Solar Program

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

The Energy Co-op of Vermont’s Co-op Solar hot water heating program has received the Vermont Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence for it’s contributions to protecting the environment, conserving energy, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  The Vermont Governor’s Awards were established in 1993 to “recognize the actions taken by Vermonters to conserve and protect natural resources, prevent pollution, and promote environmental sustainability.”  In 2012, the innovative solar program led to the installation of over 40 solar hot water systems in Chittenden County, keeping an estimated 70,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and saving Vermonters approximately $500,000 over the lifetime of the systems.

Energy Co-op General Manager John Quinney and Program Coordinator Ben Griffin accepted the award on behalf of the Vermont residents, business owners and partners who participated in the 2012 program.  Deb Markowitz, Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, presented the award at UVM’s Davis Center on Tuesday evening, May 14th saying, “The Co-op Solar program was designed to make solar simple and affordable by forming strategic partnerships, negotiating volume discounts, and providing cost-effective financing to reduce the overall cost.  Others are now using this model to promote solar installations around the state.”

Deb Markowitz presents Governor's Award to ECVT for Co-op Solar Program

Energy Co-op of Vermont’s Solar Program Expands to Include Addison County

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Colchester, VT – The Energy Co-op of Vermont announced that it has expanded its Co-op Solar hot water heating program to include Addison county.  The program is designed to help Vermonters save money and energy by heating their water with the sun.  In 2012, Co-op Solar helped install over 40 solar hot water systems in Chittenden county.  This February, Senator Bernie Sanders, Andrew Perchlik from the Department of Public Service and CEDF, David Blittersdorf, CEO of AllEarth Renewables and Board Member of the Energy Co-op of Vermont, Tom Berry from Sen. Patrick Leahy’s office, Jon Copans from Congressman Peter Welch’s office, and local officials joined members of the Energy Co-op of Vermont to officially launch the 2013 Co-op Solar program.

“What is particularly exciting about this program is that people can move in this direction without spending any more money on their fuel bills than they currently are, because they’re going to pay off their loan from the credit union by reduced fuel costs.  That is exactly the right direction to go”, said Senator Sanders in his opening remarks.  “What we’re going to be doing here is cutting back on fossil fuels, we’re going to be creating jobs, we’re going to be making Vermont a leader in the movement towards sustainable energy.” added Sanders.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders speaking about the Co-op Solar Program

Over 400 Vermonters have signed up for a free site assessment offered through the program.  Due to the level of interest, it has been expanded to include Addison, as well as Chittenden and parts of Grand Isle, Franklin, Lamoille, and Washington counties.  The program is open to any home or business owner.  Co-op Solar offers deeply discounted systems that are assembled in Vermont.  Further savings come from a 30% federal tax credit and a state incentive of up to $1,200, resulting in up to 50% off the typical cost.  “These new solar hot water systems will pay for themselves through energy savings”, said John Quinney, general manager at the Energy Co-op.

Solar hot water systems can save a typical, four-person household thousands of dollars.  Businesses that use large amounts of hot water, such as dog kennels, cafes, daycares, and laundromats, can also achieve significant savings by having a solar hot water system installed.  Co-op Solar systems can be financed through local credit unions and banks, which helps to make the program accessible to just about anyone.  REV-certified local contractors install the solar hot water heating systems.  “It may be the best investment you can make for your home and planet,” said Quinney.

The Co-op Solar program runs through April 30th, though state incentive funds may run out sooner.  Community events are taking place throughout the service area.  Interested participants can sign up for a free, no obligation site assessment to see how much they can save by going solar.  The online sign up form, events schedule, and additional information can be found at  Due to the program’s timeline, as well as uncertainty about state incentives, interested participants are encouraged to sign up sooner than later to take advantage of the free site assessment and savings.

Solar Hot Water Info Session in Charlotte, VT on March 26th

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Join us for an educational seminar on the Co-op Solar program at the Charlotte Community Library on Tuesday, March 26th at 6pm. Co-op Solar program coordinator Ben Griffin will share a presentation detailing how the program works, how solar hot water systems work, what incentives are available and when they may run out.

Last year, 30 Charlotte residents packed into the library to learn about Co-op Solar, the Energy Co-op of Vermont’s new program designed to make solar hot water simple and affordable.  Over the next few months, eight Charlotte homeowners, including Charlotte News Board member Vince Crockenberg, added solar hot water heaters to their homes.  Here’s what Vince had to say about solar:

“We installed our system for two primary reasons.  For one, the financial incentives were very attractive to us and made it quite easy for us to manage financially.  The other was that it was absolutely the right thing to do on our part to reduce our emissions as low as we possibly could.  The process really was simple.  From initial contact with Sunward to the assessment of our roof to the installation with Eric Hartmann and HarveSTAR, it was absolutely first rate and simple and easy.”

Image 1: Charlotte resident Vince Crockenberg's Co-op Solar hot water system

In 2012, more systems were installed in Charlotte than any other town in Chittenden County. And more than 1,200 Vermonters have installed solar hot water heaters on their homes over the past ten years. On a per capita basis, Vermont is now the solar hot water capital of the United States!

Does this make you curious about solar? Are you unsure about how these systems work or whether solar hot water heaters make economic sense?  Are you looking for more information about the federal and state solar incentives?

Get answers to these questions and more at the Co-op Solar info session at the Charlotte Library on Tuesday, March 26th, starting at 6:00 p.m. If you want to attend, please RSVP by calling the Energy Co-op of Vermont at (802) 860-4090, or by sending an email to To learn more, and to sign up for your free solar site assessment, go to the Co-op Solar web site at

Heating oil and propane prices are sky high.  But sunshine is still free.  That’s why the Energy Co-op created Co-op Solar.  The Co-op has made solar simple.  They’ve picked the best equipment, chosen attractive financing from a local credit union, selected top notch installers – and they take care of the paperwork.

Get the details at the Co-op Solar Info Session, Charlotte Library, Tuesday March 26th starting at 6:00 p.m.

The Days Are Getting Longer And Co-op Solar is Heating Up!

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

As the days get longer and start to feel more like spring, the weather isn’t the only thing that’s warming up! The Energy Co-op of Vermont’s Co-op Solar program is off to a great start, with close to 200 people already signed up for a free, no-obligation solar site assessment.

The site assessment helps folks see how much they can save by going solar at their home or business. Signing up is simple and can be done at the Co-op Solar website, Once you’ve filled out the on-line form, we send you a survey asking specific questions about the potential location for your solar hot water system. Once we’ve received your completed survey, we give you a return on investment (ROI) report which outlines the potential savings and reduced carbon emissions that your solar hot water heater will produce.

With this valuable report in hand, we then discuss various options: how many panels to use, where to mount the system, financing, and so on. Many homeowners choose to have a roof-mounted system, while others prefer to have a ground mount system. In any case, we can help you choose the system that works best for your home or business.

If the numbers make sense and you’d like to have a solar hot water system installed, we’ll take a deposit and schedule the installation with one of our preferred, Renewable Energy Vermont certified installers. Our systems can be paid in full upon installation or financed with no money down. Special program financing allows for these systems to be cash positive from day one, meaning you don’t have to pay out of pocket to start heating your water with the free energy from the sun!

We’ve got a lot of great community events coming up to help Vermonters understand how our solar hot water program works…so stay tuned! In the meantime, you can get more information and sign up for your free site assessment at

Co-op Solar Info Session – Solar Hot Water – Charlotte, Vermont

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

What investment in your home starts saving you money right away?

It could be a Co-op Solar rooftop solar hot water heater, now available for $0 down and low monthly payments.

Has this got you curious about solar?  Perhaps you’re wondering if your Charlotte home is suitable for solar hot water?  Or you like the idea of using the sun to heat your hot water, but you have some questions?

If this sounds like you, join us at the Charlotte Library in (115 Ferry Road, Charlotte) on Wednesday, April 18th at 7:00 p.m. for our Co-op Solar info session.

We’ll have a short presentation to cover solar hot water basics – how it works, what it costs, why Co-op Solar makes good economic sense – and then there will be plenty of time for your questions.

Send your RSVP to, or call us at (802) 860-4090.

The Energy Co-op of Vermont launched the Co-op Solar program in response to our members concerns about high fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Co-op Solar is a simple and affordable way for residents of Chittenden County to save money and make a smart environmental choice – and be protected from future energy price increases – because sunshine is free!

For more details on Co-op Solar or to sign up for a free site assessment, call the Energy Co-op of Vermont at (802) 860-4090, visit Co-op Solar – or come to our info session at the Charlotte Library on Wednesday, April 18th at 7:00 p.m.

Member: Renewable Energy Vermont, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility

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