Local businesses show support for solar energy

N.H.'s solar rebate program makes solar panels affordable and economical say advocates

Despite ironically having to huddle in the shade to find relief from the heat, nearly half a dozen advocates for solar energy in New Hampshire gathered at Arms Park in Manchester on Tuesday as a united front to further the efforts of bringing the smart choice, renewable energy to the state.

“The thing I like the most about solar is that it really empowers the individual to take control over their energy sources and produce clean energy,” said Jonathan Gregory, a sale representative for ReVision Energy in Exeter. “Not everybody’s got a good wind site, the Granite State doesn’t have a lot of good wind sites. Ultimately, the sun does shine of every square foot of the state… Anybody can tap into it.”

Atlantic Green Energy Solar Store, based in Seabrook, provided two panels as a visual for people to look at and learn about. Posted on the panels were innovative ways to use solar energy, including a new method of using solar energy to power a home’s hot water heater.

Stonyfield Farm, the organic yogurt maker from Londonderry, New Hampshire came as well with snacks and a van that has two solar panels from the solar store on their roof, another example of how they can be used.

Owner Jack Haritas estimated that, on average, the cost of a solar panel for a residential home is about $300, surprisingly low compared to the cost of the technology when it was first introduced. And while the cost of having more than one panel might still seem like a lot, Gregory has the numbers of prove that the investment quickly becomes worth the money.

“Our solar production capacity may not fall among the ranks, but we do boast one of the best state rebate programs in the country,” Gregory explained during his speech at the event. “Between our state rebate program, federal tax credits and other applicable incentives, residential and commercial property owners are regularly seeing around 50 to 70 percent of their initial investments paid off within a year’s time.”

“Really, when we talk about financing, and there’s some programs or offerings out there that mean people can put solar up on their building for no money down,” Paul Button, president of the Hillsborough County Area Renewable Energy Initiative said, expanding on the point. “It really is a no brainer even when you look at it from the strictest financial viewpoint.”

Though the local perspective played a major theme throughout the morning, the event doubled as a celebration for the release of a new report on solar progress across the nation. Titled “Lighting the Way,” it was written by Jordan Schneider of the Frontier Group and Rob Sargent of the Environment America Research and Policy Center.

Ben McCormack, a field organizer for Environment New Hampshire Research and Policy Center, the local faction of the national group, highlighted the key findings of the report for those in attendance, regarding “the rapid expansion of solar [energy] in the U.S.” as well as the major role that states, like New Hampshire (which ranked 29th for installed solar per capita), have played.

The report found that solar energy is almost entirely pollution free, producing 96 percent less global warming pollution than coal fire power plants and 91 percent less than natural gas fire power plants over its entire life cycle. The report also showed that solar energy can be a vital source of job creation. Out of the 140,000 solar jobs in the U.S., 860 of them were created in the Granite State, making solar a “go to energy option” for the state as long as policy makers are in agreement.

“The report emphasizes that it is not the availability of sunlight that makes states solar leaders, but the degree to which state and local governments have created effective public policy for the development of the solar industry,” McCormack added. “It’s possible in New Hampshire [to expand solar energy use], and with smart leadership, we’ll get there.”

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