The Charlotte Library is normally quiet by 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday nights, as librarian Margaret Woodruff closes the doors for the day. But Wednesday, April 18th, was anything but quiet at the library. Despite the temptation to enjoy time outdoors at the end of a perfect spring day, 35 people packed the library to hear Ben Griffin talk about Co-op Solar, a new, easy and affordable way to add a solar hot water heater to your home.
Ben was joined by Kris Larsen and Doug Merrill from Sunward, the Vergennes company that supplies the solar hot water heaters used in the Co-op Solar program, and John Quinney, general manager of the Energy Co-op of Vermont.
Ben’s presentation covered the basics: how solar hot water heaters work, the attractive Co-op Solar volume discount, the 30% federal state credit and the Vermont incentive. Taken together, these financial incentives now make solar hot water a cost-effective choice for many Charlotte families. Ben also discussed the economics of solar hot water heaters and the attractive financing provided by VSECU’s solar loan program. He pointed out that heating oil and propane prices are quite high at present, and that many expect prices to continue to rise in the future. It was this concern, coupled with their interest in helping to fight climate change that drove more than 450 Vermonters to install solar hot water heaters last year. They are now protected from future oil, propane or electricity price increases because most of their hot water is provided by the sun – and that’s free.
Those in attendance asked lots of questions which Doug, Kris and Ben addressed. They described the $900 Vermont incentive which many in the renewables industry expect to be unavailable by early summer. This has encouraged Vermonters to go ahead and complete a site assessment and then to reserve their $900 from the state. There were also a couple of questions about the return on investment from solar hot water versus solar electric. While stating that solar hot water is almost always a more attractive investment, especially for families with young children, Doug also pointed out that each person’s situation is unique and that Sunward provides specific return on investment information for everyone who signs up for a free Co-op Solar site assessment.
Library trustee, Vince Crockenburg, spoke passionately about his experience with solar in California many years ago and welcomed the arrival of attractive solar options for Vermont homes.
The Co-op Solar info session finished up by 8:30. Nine Charlotters took the next step and signed up for a free site assessment to see if solar made sense for their homes. Just four days before Earth Day they showed their support for cutting our dependence on fossil fuels, for addressing climate change and for two Vermont businesses, Sunward Systems and the Energy Co-op of Vermont.