At Woodstock Town Board meeting, group pitches municipal purchase of solar energy equipment in bulk

December 31, 2014 | Filed under: News | Posted by: Daily Freeman SUBJECT

WOODSTOCK -- The Town Board has been asked to participate in the Mid-Hudson Solarize campaign being promoted by Catskill Mountainkeeper....

At a recent board meeting, program manger Elizabeth Broad said the campaign involves asking municipalities to buy solar panels and installations in bulk.

“The expectation would be that folks in the community, whether people who are part of the board or other groups ... would hopefully get excited about promoting solar and host a forum in town where people would come and learn about the options for financing solar,” she said.

“Right now it’s kind of the best time ever to purchase a solar system for various reasons,” Broad said. “Incentives are going to be going away ... and they are already going down through NYSERDA (the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority). So on one hand, solar prices will keep falling, (but) incentives are going to be going away.”

Broad said help from municipalities can make a difference in lowering the cost of having new solar energy systems installed.

“I was living in Binghamton this past year and launched a campaign there called Southern Tier Solar Works ... (which) doubled the number solar systems in two months that they had installed the entire previous year in Broome and Tioga counties,” she said.

Catskill Mountainkeeper was awarded a New York State Energy Research and Development Authority grant for $1.8 million earlier this year to help promote solar installation. The organization on its web site said bulk purchases can reduce the installation costs for customers from $20,000 to $4,000.

“We’re aiming for between three and six communities in this area,” Broad said. “We’re trying to get a sense of who wants to take this on because while we will be dedicating staff time to it ... really it takes people in the community who are invested and interested and (who are) going to be promoting it to their neighbors.”

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