Thursday, February 18, 2010

"It's a 50-50 Chance!"

That's what Dan Britton, the Photovoltaic System Designer from Sunlight Solar Energy said at the end of his visit to our house this morning. He was referring to our chance of being approved for the CT Solar Lease program. Apparently, with the current program drawing to a close, they're busy going through the back log of people like us, who are trying to get solar panels with grant money.

(Here's his car - OF COURSE it's a Prius! I also loved that his business card was printed on 100%PCW paper with soy inks and without chlorine, and the presentation folder...made of 100% recycled materials! Who can't be impressed by this company?)

To be honest, I missed a lot of the technical speak about the inverters, but only because while Dan was talking, Julien kept trying to insert himself into the conversation. (He enjoys the science of it so much that he couldn't keep quiet. At one point he brought out circuit boards to show Dan how he himself would make solar panels, and then got out a notebook to take notes on our consultation. For the grand finale Julien made an illustration of our house with the solar panels.) Seriously, it's amazing we got anything done.

(Dan measuring the roof, and taking sun measurements. )

After measurements and calculations, Dan explained that our house was a great candidate for solar energy with only 1% of shade a year - that's what you get for southern exposure with a VERY tall house and no large trees blocking the sun. We're waiting on his proposal to tell us how many solar panels he recommends for our property. He did say we'll need to do some carpentry to reinforce the support beams on the original part of the house. (The addition is built with trusses so there's no problem there.)

What I hadn't understood before today was that we'll still have the CL&P meter, but also an additional one measuring how much energy we produce and sell back to CL&P. This system does not store energy, just sends it back to the street. It's kind of neat to me that we'll be producing the electricity our neighbors will be using. We'll get credits for that energy which we can use to purchase any electricity we'll need later when the days are shorter or we're not producing enough of our own.

I also found it interesting to go to the CL&P website and print out our energy usage for the past 2 years, by month. You can go to the website and pull your usage history and email it to yourself. I can also recommend (so far) the solar company we've used The man who came out to our house was very patient with all of our questions (and Julien's!)

So we may not make the cut this time around. With the backlog of applications, who knows if there is any grant money left at this point? We've heard that this kind of clean energy program will probably reincarnate in some form or another in a few years. Until we hear, we'll be sitting with our fingers crossed, hoping to share the news that we've got solar power!

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