Why I Went Solar features homes and businesses that have chosen to go solar. If you would like to feature your home or business in this column please email our Community Manager.
CFO: Bob Whelan
Location of panels: Washington Depot, Connecticut
What made you go solar?
Companies in the lumber and building materials industry in New England traditionally sold coal, then later fuel oil, so renewable energy products are not a big leap.
As the Solar industry has evolved, products both for retrofit situations as well as for new construction have come forward which seem to fit well into the offerings of a professional builder-oriented lumber company. These builders need a place to get their questions answered as well as the questions posed by their clients.
How has your life changed since you went solar?
As a business, we have certainly been viewed as being innovative and forward thinking. By providing a location that consumers, builders, architects, schools and municipal leaders can visit to get their questions answered during regular business hours, and to see 5 types of Photovoltaic systems in use, as well as two types of Solar Thermal (BIST & traditional panels), it has certainly created increased awareness of the opportunities provided by renewable energy systems (not to mention our company). Washington Supply was supported in the promotion of renewable energy education by a grant from the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund (CCEF), and is recognized as an educational resource of that agency. Having that endorsement has certainly helped to create good word of mouth marketing which, during this economic downturn, has certainly helped us to attract new customers.
We have provided a 32” touch screen kiosk using Locus Energy’s software that allows people to interact with the system, and get basic education about the operation of a PV system. The look on folks faces as they see the statistics regarding our production versus consumption is priceless. As well, the fact that we provide +/- 1/3 of our total needs in our retail operation is not without its own benefit. At our current production, net of the grant from the CCEF, we anticipate we will have completely paid for our system in 6 years.
What tips do you have for others who want to go solar?
Be aware of the programs provided by your local utilities or state, and take advantage of the one that works best for your situation. Since the programs change quickly, make your decisional process short – we have had situations where programs have changed or been dropped while people were still considering their options.
ASES will hold its annual National Solar Tour this fall where you can show your home, host a tour or go on a tour. If you’d like to donate to support ASES in its mission to promote solar, please click here. If you’d like to learn more about putting solar on your home or to find a local solar professional, click on the Find a Solar Installer Near You on the right side of ASES.org.