“Preserving the quality and sustainability of Fairfield’s environment is a vital goal for our Town, and solar energy is a critical part of the solution. We hope that our residents will come to one of the Solarize events over the next 20 weeks and consider joining the hundreds of Fairfield homeowners who are saving money and helping to sustain our environment by utilizing solar energy.”
Fairfield First Selectman, Michael C. Tetreau
“With growing concern about how to overcome all the threats to our natural environment – plus all of solar’s cost-saving benefits – checking out solar makes sense now more than ever. By joining Solarize Fairfield, Fairfield homeowners will help our community and Connecticut lead the way in the spread of cost-efficient, renewable solar energy, for a cleaner, more healthful environment.”
Fairfield Clean Energy Task Force Chair, Scott Thompson
What Your Fairfield Neighbors Are Saying About Going Solar
Solar is the future and that’s why nearly 300 of your Fairfield neighbors have already “solarized.” These modern Fairfielders are diverse as a rainbow. They have big houses, small houses, wooded lots and hilltop sites. They buy the solar panels up front or finance them with no installation costs. The Fairfield Clean Energy Task Force is here to make it easy for you to unite with your neighbors and reach our goal of 1,000 solarized homes. Take the guesswork out of solarizing and read what your neighbors have to say. Then get a quote!
Joshua and Melinda Prince: Driving on Sunshine
We went solar to create our own clean energy to power our home and electric cars. We installed a 22-panel, 7.2 kW array with no money down through the EmpowerLoan. We save at least $114 monthly, so the solar is paying for itself. Plus, we are investing in a physical asset which increases the value of our home rather than throwing our money at the utility company. We plan on paying off the solar loan early and then, on average, all we expect to pay is the $9.67 basic monthly utility charge. Going solar has helped us feel like we are part of something bigger than ourselves. Through Solarize Fairfield we knew we were working with a highly qualified and community selected solar installer. We’re helping our town become a statewide leader on solar energy. Not only do we get solar power for our home, but we know we’re doing our part for our community and state.
Mary Hogue: A Home in the Woods off Burr Street
I wanted to go solar to save money and to be less of a negative to the environment. My kids think it’s really cool and are proud of it. I think that’s the best part of going solar.
We participated in the first Solarize Fairfield program. We’re in a fairly wooded area near the Connecticut Audubon Society, but luckily our house was sited so we could get solar and make it worthwhile. We have about 30 panels on the back of the house.
We purchased the array in full—which meant we got a federal rebate and a state tax credit, pretty much cutting the total cost in half. These days we pay about half of what we did before the photovoltaic (PV0) panels for our electricity. We’re projected to recoup our expenditures in about eight years – everything after that is pure savings.
The response from my friends and neighbors is great—when they find out we’ve installed a solar array they want to see it. It’s also a teaching opportunity at Fairfield Warde High School: I send my monthly reports on electricity generation to the environmental science teacher and he uses them to teach his class about sustainable energy.
David McMahon: A Hilltop Home near Blackrock Turnpike
I operated an ice cream truck for 12 years. We had a freezer and a truck compression motor running all night in the driveway, and our electric bill was $500 or $600 month—that’s one reason I was considering alternative energy. But solar was expensive at the time. I’ve watched the price come down a lot in the past 10 years.
I’m a member of the Earth Day Committee and the Forestry Committee. Going solar was a good opportunity for me to go green. To install panels, all you need is a roof that faces south or a big lawn. I have a pretty good location atop the hill near Black Rock Turnpike. In August of 2015, SolarCity installed an array of 23 solar panels on my 1,200 square foot house.
They had several payment plans to choose from, and I decided not to buy the array but rather to sign a contract to purchase all the electricity it produces for 20 years. With this type of deal, a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), the panels didn’t cost me anything—not even the installation and inspections.
I get all the electricity the array generates. My estimate is that we’re saving 32% in summer, 16% in winter, and 23% in spring and fall. You have to get out your spreadsheet to figure out the savings. If I produce more electricity than I use on any given day, United Illuminating (UI) buys it back from me.
Even though I pay slightly more per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for electricity than I used to, I save quite a bit on delivery costs which I no longer have to pay to UI. On a typical electric bill, the delivery cost for electricity is about 26 percent more than the electricity generation cost itself. If you have a $50 generation bill you might have a $65 delivery charge, for a total of $115. Because our electricity delivery systems are so inefficient, UI has to make 4 kWh of electricity for us to receive just one kWh over the grid. Solar, which you produce on site, makes the delivery cost go away.
Another important consideration is UI burns coal to make our electricity. There is an equivalent amount of coal for each kWh generated. If your array produces one kWh of electric, UI burns four fewer kWh of coal. This is the real savings of solar power.
I’ve had several of my Fairfield neighbors stop by and there’s a lot of interest. Everything has gone as planned.
Ron Blumenfeld: From Horse Stable to Solar Home
At first my motivation for going solar was to protect the environment. But as it turns out, solar has real economic benefits as well.
In the 1920s my house was a horse stable, on a hill on Stillson Road. In the 50s it was turned into a single level home with no basement. We’ve owned it since the 70s. Over the years we’ve added insulation and other improvements, but still, at 2,800 square feet, the house was costing $200 a month in electricity.
Back in the early 2000s I’d started to think about solar, but it wasn’t financially feasible at the time. But prices started dropping precipitously. I participated in Fairfield’s first Solarize Fairfield program, whose chosen solar installer determined the house was well-suited for solar.
The system was installed in January of 2013. Immediately my electric bill dropped to essentially zero, except for an administrative cost to United Illuminating (UI)—$17 a month. But throughout the year the panels generate a small surplus and UI issues a credit, which means for a couple of months each year the administrative cost is covered.
The installation of 32 panels went smoothly and quickly—it was non-disruptive. It took only about two and a half days from the time the first electrician arrived to when the solar installers finished. The installers were skilled, efficient and cleaned up completely. When they put the panels up they walked on them—they’re that tough. They’re built to handle 120-mile-per-hour winds. And the panels come with a 25-year warrantee, so you feel very protected.
Getting the inspections done from the town and UI took more time than the installation—a couple of weeks—but went smoothly, too.
I decided to buy it outright rather than lease. The cost after the federal tax credit and state rebate was about $13,000. My break-even point is five to six years. There’s a nice software package to monitor your system. At first I checked it every day! The best season for energy production is the springtime, when the days are getting longer and it’s not too hot (efficiency is reduced on hot days).
The economics of solar now are such that it’s basically a no-brainer. I charge my electric vehicle with the sun, drawing energy from my solar panels. The panels don’t always generate enough electricity to power both the house and the car, so I have to pay for the extra power, but it’s way cheaper—and cleaner—than gasoline.
I can’t think of a single drawback to our solar panels. I haven’t had any problems with the system. There are no moving parts. It’s silent and reliable. The only time the energy production is totally interrupted is when there’s snow on the panel. I just let it melt.
Larry Kaley: A 1929 House on Jennings Road
My wife wasn’t too anxious at first to have the solar panels, for aesthetic reasons. And I can tell you that when the first bill came and there was no electric charge, she suddenly found it very attractive.
We installed the panels a little more than three years ago. At the time, I was serving as the chairman of the Fairfield Clean Energy Task Force. I feel very strongly about the use of alternative energy, because of climate change and the future generations, and the wellbeing of my friends and neighbors and their kids. I also saw this as a marvelous economic opportunity, which was rather motivating. I was one of the first three people to sign up in the first Solarize Fairfield program.
We installed 22 photovoltaic panels on the roof of our approximately 3,000 square-foot house. The house has a great southern exposure with no obstructions. We paid outright for the panels and we’ve already just about paid off the initial outlay with the savings. We’ve found that depending on the weather conditions, we get free electricity a minimum of nine months a year. If it’s icy and snowy of course that changes things—but we still come out way ahead.
I’ve seen no drawbacks to having solar panels. We’ve had no problems with the system. It works great. Being on the Task Force,
I was well educated about solar energy and had helped choose the vendor. So I knew what to expect. The installation went smoothly. In fact, we held an open house at the time through the Task Force and there was a large crowd in my driveway watching.
Solar energy is highly feasible. We have almost the equivalent amount of sunshine here to certain areas of Florida. A country like Germany, which is not known for its sunshine and clear skies, is using an awful lot of solar.
Our house was built in 1929. When we moved in we replaced the old fashioned storm windows and screens. We had something like 48 windows. We insulated the house, put in new windows and doors. And we had an energy audit. For heating and cooling we installed a heat pump which runs on electricity. So we did a lot of energy efficiency improvements. The solar is the icing on the cake.
Michael Richards: 1970s House Near Lake Mohegan
We’ve had solar panels on our 2,200 square foot house for about seven years now. The house had to pass a test—it had to face the right way. It’s a pretty wooded area in the Lake Mohegan area, so I had to take down one tree.
I participated in the lease program that the State of Connecticut had at the time. I didn’t have to pay out anything–it’s like leasing a car with no down payment. After 15 years, my lease fees will substantially decrease, and if I want to I can pay it off early. Connecticut had an incentive program at the time which covered roughly half the cost.
I was an early adopter, and since the time of installation energy prices have dropped. I don’t know what my electric bill would be without the solar array, but as long as I’m close to breaking even and I’m doing a good deed by reducing my energy consumption, that’s good. I’ve also enjoyed consistent payments over the years.
In the spring and summer people stop by and ask how they work. When the power’s out on the United Illuminating (UI) grid, we lose power. People think we’re impervious to blackouts, but we’re not.
The only thing I’d do differently is put a metal screen guard around the panels. If trees are within 20-30 yards from the roof, sometimes squirrels can jump on the roof and find their way under the array.
The panels haven’t given me any problems in terms of performance. I would recommend solar energy to anyone as long as the finances work out.