On a recent Friday night, participants in Solarize MDI joined together at Galyn’s Restaurant in downtown Bar Harbor to celebrate what has become Maine’s most successful Solarize campaign.
With 76 projects and over 640 kilowatts of solar already or soon to be installed, A Climate to Thrive (ACTT) project coordinator Joe Blotnick says “The success of Solarize was due to the community of environmentally aware people on MDI willing to make an investment in solar now to help create a better future for their kids and grandchildren.” Launched in April, residents and businesses in the towns of Mount Desert, Bar Harbor, Tremont, and Southwest Harbor were able to participate in a group purchasing program aimed at reducing installation costs for grid-tied solar electric installations.
“With Solarize MDI we’ve doubled solar capacity on the island,” says Gary Friedmann, Chair of A Climate to Thrive, “and we intend to double that again in 2018, and again in 2019. It will take 72 megawatts of solar to power our island’s energy needs, and we are on our way to achieve our organization’s mission: energy independence for MDI by 2030.”
Solarize savings for all participants increased as more home and business owners signed installation contracts, with average installation savings of $1,500 in addition to a 30% federal tax credit. “With electric rates going up by an average of five percent in 2018, solar economics are looking advantageous as we plan ahead for the new year,” says Jennifer Albee of ReVision Energy, the solar contractor responsible for designing and installing solar systems. “In addition to net-energy billing, which allows for kilowatt-hour credit accrual with Emera Maine, solar means long-term locked-in energy savings with an average return on investment of seven to ten percent, all while reducing carbon pollution.”
In January, homeowners will also be able to sign up for Weatherize MDI, a program offering bulk discounts on energy assessment, air sealing, and insulation projects to make buildings more energy efficient while taking advantage of rebates from Efficiency Maine.
Further discussions regarding solar on MDI, including a presentation from Josh Castonguay, Chief Innovation Executive at Vermont’s Green Mountain Power, will kickoff ACTT’s community gathering on Sunday, January 28 at MDI High School. Green Mountain Power is a national leader in empowering customers to increase energy independence and reduce carbon emissions with solar and storage solutions. For more information regarding A Climate to Thrive and the mission-driven work they’re leading across MDI, visit www.aclimatetothrive.org