The Olaffs install solar!

East Lyme live install
Steve and Christine Olaff, recently had a 5 kw system solar installation on their home in Niantic by Encon Solar. Steve explained why, “I’ve been interested in solar power and clean energy for a long time. Now was a good time because the Solarize East Lyme campaign made it so easy with one stop shopping. It is estimated to offset around 80% of our electrical needs but with three daughters off to college, we expect it to supply all of it. I recommend using the solarize program to everyone.”

West Hartford’s Bernie Pelletier Joins SmartPower, Signs on to help expand “Solarize Connecticut” Program

Washington, DC – SmartPower, the nation’s leading non-profit marketing organization dedicated to promoting clean, renewable energy today announced the hire of Bernie Pelletier as a new Community Outreach Manager in Connecticut.

Pelletier is an active member of the West Hartford Clean Energy Task Force and, along with others on that committee, led the successful Solarize West Hartford campaign in 2013/2014. Since he has retired from his actuarial career he has devoted himself to the mission of Sustainability – which encompasses Environmental, Economic, and Social elements.

As Community Outreach Manager, Mr. Pelletier will be working closely with the entire SmartPower team to implement all aspects of the Solarize Connecticut program.  Solarize Connecticut is a partnership between SmartPower, the Connecticut Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority and The John Merck Fund.

“We are indeed fortunate to have someone of Bernie’s stature joining our team,” said SmartPower President, Brian F. Keane. “Bernie is a known quantity throughout Connecticut and to our Solarize Campaigns. We’re excited that now he’ll officially be a part of the SmartPower Team.”

The “Solarize” Campaign is a community “group-buy” for solar that creates solid deadlines and builds trust  — both of which have been barriers to solar consumers. And with several financing options available to Connecticut residents, solar can often be installed on homes with no money down.

The program has dramatically reduced the costs of solar – dropping the soft costs of solar by 20%.  And perhaps even more exciting, a full 20% of those who participated had never considered purchasing solar before, proving we can now break through to the mainstream consumer.

We have now completed three phases of Solarize Connecticut  — and the results have been extraordinary.  Indeed in just 20 months we have contracted for over 8.2 MW of residential solar power. That represents 1,100 homes and means in just 20 months we will reduce more than 14,000 metric tons of carbon emissions annually.

Further, 8.2 MW of installed solar power represents:

  • A reduction of 7,026,902 pounds of coal
  • A reduction of 15,214 barrels of oil
  • Translates to the removal of 1,377 cars off the road and the elimination of 15,576,30 miles driven
  • The equivalent of planting 167,745 trees
  • The equivalent of eliminating 171,123 incandescent light bulbs

As we conclude Phase 4 and begin Phase 5 of Solarize we are excited to have Bernie’s expertise and drive to help us continue to achieve strong measurable goals.

Bernie brings a strong background to the Solarize campaigns.  Prior to joining SmartPower Bernie was an Actuary for Travelers Insurance where he was the Chief Actuary for the International Department.  He retired from this position in 2012.

He graduated from Manhattan College in 1975 with degrees in Mathematics and Peace Studies.  His actuarial career made full use of both skill sets – and he continued to develop both disciplines. In 2007 he received a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Trinity College in Hartford.  He is working towards a Masters at RPI Hartford in the Environmental and Energy Engineering cohort.

For more information visit SmartPower at

Ivoryton Farm Market

CT State Rep Phil Miller, Bob & Tyson

Special thanks to State Rep Phil Miller for stopping by the Solarize table at Ivoryton Farm Market, joining Tyson Buerkle from Sunlight solar and Bob Laundy of the Essex Energy Task Force.

Live Installation Event by C-TEC Solar

120 Households Go Solar through Solarize Upper Valley

Spring Program a Sunny Success; Recruiting for Fall Program Begins

July 10, 2014 – White River Junction, Vt. – One hundred twenty homeowners across the Upper Valley are going solar this season thanks to Solarize Upper Valley, an initiative led by Vital Communities to increase the rate of solar adoption in the region. These homeowners in Thetford and Strafford, Vt., and Cornish, Plainfield, and Lyme, N.H., are adding 638 new kilowatts of renewable energy capacity to the region – resulting in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 116 cars off the road. While the population of these five towns may be small, with only 9,406 residents combined, together they convinced 11 percent of households to get a solar site visit and three percent of households to go solar in just 15 weeks.

“The results of the first round of Solarize Upper Valley surpassed our expectations – not only in the number of households going solar, but also in the commitment of the community volunteers who made the program a success,” said Vital Communities Energy Program Manager Sarah Simonds. “We’re now recruiting communities to participate in new Solarize campaigns for the fall and are excited to help them achieve similar results.”

Solarize Upper Valley teams up community volunteers with competitively selected solar photovoltaic (PV) installers for 15 weeks of outreach around small-scale solar energy, offering competitive prices, accessible resources, and a simplified process for solar PV installations. “I know solar would have remained a ‘someday’ for us without all the work provided by [Solarize Upper Valley],” said one Solarize Cornish-Plainfield customer. “You made it possible for our someday to be today.”

Vital Communities is currently recruiting for the fall round of the Solarize Upper Valley program. Interested communities can find more information at The deadline to apply is July 21.

With support from the John Merck Fund and an individual donor to Vital Communities, Solarize Upper Valley is part of a larger network of Solarize programs aimed at catalyzing a very public and lasting wave of new residential solar installations across New England and beyond. Solarize programs have been successful in Massachusetts and Connecticut and are now taking root in other parts of the country.

“The exciting results from Vital Communities’ Solarize campaign continue to prove that the ‘Solarize’ community model is perhaps the most effective approach for expanding residential solar,” said Brian F. Keane, president of SmartPower, a leading partner in the broader effort to expand and share the Solarize model. “This model works – whether in Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, or anywhere across the nation.”

Vital Communities, a nonprofit organization based in White River Junction, Vt., brings together citizens, organizations, and municipalities to take on issues where an independent voice and regional approach are essential. Working together, we make our region a better place to live, work, and play. Learn more at