BRUNSWICK — In the first month of the town’s Solarize program, the selected equipment provider says it is “confident” it will meet its installation goal.
As of Tuesday, Oct. 29, ReVision Energy of Portland had signed four residential contracts and scheduled 80 home evaluations, according to town Business Development Manager Linda Smith.
That means ReVision expects to surpass the 20 sign-ups needed to offer the lowest discount price of $3.03 per watt, according to a Solarize press release. ReVision needs to install more than 200 kilowatts of capacity to offer the lowest price.
“Right now we are confident we can get there,” said ReVision Marketing Manager Jennifer Hatch on Wednesday. … Our goal is to double that.”
Solarize Brunswick allows customers to buy solar equipment at a reduced cost as a bulk purchase. As more capacity is installed, the cost of electricity drops in tiers, resulting in the lowest price of $3.03 per watt.
The town selected ReVision energy as its provider in September, after issuing a request for proposals. Since then, ReVision has taken over management of the program.
Smith, the only town staff assigned to the project, estimated she spent about two weeks preparing the RFP and vetting proposals. The bulk of the work was done by the town’s Recycling & Sustainability Committee, she said.
ReVision presented information about the program at events Oct 15 and 17. About 50 people attended each event, according to Smith.
ReVision and the Recycling & Sustainability Committee estimate that with the Solarize discount, on top of a 30 percent federal tax credit, the average household of four could purchase solar equipment for about $10,000 to meet its energy needs. That results in a payback period of 11-12 years, they said.
The federal tax credit, however, expires December 2016, meaning anyone who wants to leverage both discounts needs to install equipment before June 2016.
“You do tend to get a lot of people waiting until the end of the program to make their final decision,” Hatch said. She said her company is trying to encourage people to sign up early, as signing up too late risks running into the window where the tax credit expires.
To encourage early sign-ups, ReVision is offering gift cards from local businesses like the Great Impasta and Wild Oats to the first 15 customers who sign solar contracts.
Solarize Brunswick, in conjunction with the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber of Commerce and the Brunswick Downtown Association, will hold an information session for Brunswick businesses on Wednesday, Nov. 4. The event will be held from 7:30-9 a.m. in the Community Room on Brunswick Landing.
Hatch said she is hopeful the event will attract some businesses to sign up for the program.
“You get one or two businesses, and we can push right through a whole tier,” she said.
Representatives from ReVision will also be at open houses throughout November so potential customers can see solar equipment that has already been installed firsthand. Those listings can be viewed on solarizebrunswick.com.
The deadline for signing up is Jan. 31, 2016. To be eligible for the 30 percent tax credit, systems must be scheduled for completion before June 2016.
But Hatch does not think the expiring tax credit will spell the end of solar for Brunswick, or for Maine.
“We’ve had some hurdles we’ve gone through before,” she said Wednesday, such as losing the state rebate for solar energy and fighting a proposed rate change for solar customers by Central Maine Power.
Each time, “I’ve seen the response (from customers) grow even stronger with solar in Maine … people are understanding that these are investments,” she said.
“I don’t think that the industry is going to shrivel up and die,” she added.
A 10.4 kW solar electric system installed by ReVision Energy on the roof of a Brunswick home.