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Sunny Side Up

As the price plummets, solar energy is getting harder to ignore



Illustrations by Linda Helton

 “It’s just common sense,” says Lloyd Trufelman, a New York resident and proud owner of a rooftop solar-photovoltaic system. “It’s no hassle, you save money, and you make a tremendous impact on the environment. I honestly don’t understand why everybody doesn’t do it.”

This simple logic is getting harder and harder to dispute. And it’s a sentiment that can be heard from an increasing number of local residents, as solar panels, gleaming from residential rooftops, become the most visible sign of a burgeoning alternative-energy movement in our area.

Between 2013 and 2014, Connecticut saw the number of residential solar installations double, which prompted Governor Malloy to expand the state’s residential solar investment program goals by an order of magnitude, from 30 megawatts a year, to 300 megawatts a year by 2022. And New York installed more solar capacity in 2014 than it did in the three previous years combined, a total of 174 megawatts. 

Though solar—and all renewable energy sources—still makes up a small fraction of the total amount of energy consumed in this country, it is starting to account for an increasing percentage of the new capacity coming online. In fact, 70 percent of all new generating capacity in the first half of 2015 came from renewable sources, much of it solar. 

For a long time, solar energy has been a tough sell in this part of the world. In sun-soaked California—which installed more solar in 2014 than the entire country did in the previous four decades—it’s a no-brainer. But the Northeast is not exactly known for its 

abundant sun. So solar panels have been viewed by many as an expensive hobby for environmental enthusiasts. 

Every market has its breaking point, however. And the twin trends of rising traditional energy costs and more affordable alternatives are spurring a new wave of solar adoption in this area. Only Alaska and Hawaii have higher electricity costs than do Connecticut and Westchester. Meanwhile, in the last ten years, the cost of producing solar energy has fallen from $8 a watt to less the $3 a watt, a downward trend that shows no sign of abating. 

“The price of all alternative energy has come down significantly in the last five years,” says Mark Thielking, executive director of Energize NY and director of energy resources for the town of Bedford. “It’s like the Industrial Revolution all over again. The scale and efficiency of production is driving the cost declines, and the demand is driving the scale. And as more and more people adopt alternative energy, we’re starting to see the social norms change.”

In addition, the way solar systems are marketed and sold to homeowners has evolved and adapted. Solar vendors now handle every aspect of a solar installation, from getting municipal approvals, to processing the federal and state incentives. And they offer a variety of financing options, including low- or no-interest credit, leasing, and power-purchase agreements, in which homeowners become electricity providers, selling energy to a distributor. 

Trufelman chose to lease his solar system, because he was able to install it with no upfront costs and still pay less for electricity on a monthly basis. Kishore and Malavika Ranande, who are building a new home in Ridgefield, chose to purchase their panels outright. 

“I looked at both methods, and because the warranty on these panels is now 25 years at minimum, buying seemed better than leasing,” says Kishore, who considered going solar five years ago, but decided against it because the costs were too high. “I did a tremendous amount of research into this purchase, and the bottom line is that it would be foolish for us not to take advantage of solar. We have a house with a perfect southwest-facing roof. And I’ve seen 20 years of electricity bills go up. So this is just common sense.”

Solar providers have also simplified the initial assessment of the solar potential of a home. Using Google Maps to measure the size and orientation of your rooftop, many vendors can now estimate energy production without making an onsite visit. And vendors camped out at home-improvement retailers like Lowe’s and Home Depot are targeting the do-it-yourselfers as they walk through the doors.

 “The bottom line is that we’re getting better at solar,” says Tom Wemyss, a salesperson at PurePoint Energy, a solar-panel provider based in Norwalk. “The manufacturers are getting better. The providers are getting better. And the utilities are getting better. And homeowners? They just want to save money.” 

The early adopters of solar panels were largely driven by environmental concerns. But the industry has always known that residential solar would reach a tipping point when the economics were too compelling to ignore. And for Connecticut and New York, that time is now. 

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December 2018

Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

What sets the Washington Art Association’s Annual Holiday Sale apart from others is not only the exquisitely hand crafted gifts by local artisans, but a talented group of volunteers designers and...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Plaza
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Ginger Nelsen
Website »

More information

Take inspired works of art; a Library magically transformed into a sparkling, vibrant gallery; add infectious community enthusiasm... Put it all together and the result is the Mark Twain...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Mark Twain Library
439 Redding Road
Redding, CT  06896
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Sponsor: The Mark Twain Library
Telephone: 203-938-2545
Contact Name: Romy Weinberg
Website »

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Decorating gingerbread houses has been a tradition at Hunt Hill Farm for many years. We invite you to join us this year with pastry chef extraordinaire Claire Bevington.

Cost: $90.00

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Telephone: 860-355-0300
Contact Name: Kimberly
Website »

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James Lancel McElhinney, journal-artist, author, Yale alumnus and  Pollock-Krasner Grant recipient will unfold the epic story of painted books, from the Age of Exploration to the digital era. He...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Ridgefield Library
472 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Library
Telephone: 203-438-2282
Contact Name: Laurie McGavin Bachmann
Website »

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The Fine Line Art Gallery’s Holiday Art Show 'Miniature Masterpieces' features artwork perfect for gift-giving. The exhibit will include small works of art, such as miniature...

Cost: Admission Free

Where:
Fine Line Art Gallery
319 Main Street South
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: Fine Line Art Gallery
Telephone: 203-266-0110
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

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Join Art Rodia, an instructor with over 30 years of yoga teaching experience, as he guides this gentle yoga class. Created for people over fifty and beginners who need a gentle and accessible...

Cost: 10.00

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St North
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: New Morning Market
Telephone: 203-263-4868
Website »

More information

What sets the Washington Art Association’s Annual Holiday Sale apart from others is not only the exquisitely hand crafted gifts by local artisans, but a talented group of volunteers designers and...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Plaza
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Ginger Nelsen
Website »

More information

Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

What sets the Washington Art Association’s Annual Holiday Sale apart from others is not only the exquisitely hand crafted gifts by local artisans, but a talented group of volunteers designers and...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Plaza
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Ginger Nelsen
Website »

More information

Ayurveda advocates seasonal detoxing to strengthen your immune system and help your body function at its best. Weather shifts can wreak havoc on your entire system. “Spring-summer-fall-winter...

Cost: Free

Where:
North Castle Public Library
19 Wippoorwill Rd E
Yellow Monkey Village
Armonk, NY  10589
View map »


Sponsor: Dr. Kaushik's Ayurvedic and Naturopathic Clinic
Telephone: 914-875-9088
Contact Name: Dr. Kaushik
Website »

More information

Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

What sets the Washington Art Association’s Annual Holiday Sale apart from others is not only the exquisitely hand crafted gifts by local artisans, but a talented group of volunteers designers and...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Plaza
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Ginger Nelsen
Website »

More information

Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

What sets the Washington Art Association’s Annual Holiday Sale apart from others is not only the exquisitely hand crafted gifts by local artisans, but a talented group of volunteers designers and...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Plaza
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Ginger Nelsen
Website »

More information

Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

KMR Arts presents Mark Seliger: Platinum Prints. The exhibition opens on Saturday, October 6, 2018 from 3-6 pm with a reception and book signing of the monograph, MARK SELIGER PHOTOGRAPHS, with the...

Cost: no charge

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: KMR Arts
Telephone: (860)868-7533
Contact Name: Kathy McCarver Root
Website »

More information

The Fine Line Art Gallery’s Holiday Art Show 'Miniature Masterpieces' features artwork perfect for gift-giving. The exhibit will include small works of art, such as miniature...

Cost: Admission Free

Where:
Fine Line Art Gallery
319 Main Street South
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: Fine Line Art Gallery
Telephone: 203-266-0110
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

More information

EVERY THURSDAY | 7:30 PM - 10:00 pm Music | Spoken Word | Comedy | More Hosted by Don Lowe Hunt Hill Farm is excited to announce OpenMic night every Thursday night.  Please stop by to...

Cost: donation

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farm
Telephone: 860.355.0300
Contact Name: John C. Maxwell III
Website »

More information

Join us on Thursdays in December to celebrate a month of giving for the Audubon at Bent of the River.  Each Thursday morning, we will be joined by Kate Pratt who will have a bird-themed story...

Cost: Free - registration requested

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St North
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: New Morning Market
Telephone: 203-263-4868
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

A Litchfield County tradition for over 45 years, the Kent Singers is an enthusiastic ensemble of 35+ singers. The new dynamic musical director, Knox Sutterfield, trained at the Yale School of...

Cost: $25.00 Adults- Kids are Free

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Telephone: 860-355-0300
Contact Name: Kimberly
Website »

More information

What sets the Washington Art Association’s Annual Holiday Sale apart from others is not only the exquisitely hand crafted gifts by local artisans, but a talented group of volunteers designers and...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Plaza
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Ginger Nelsen
Website »

More information

KMR Arts presents Mark Seliger: Platinum Prints. The exhibition opens on Saturday, October 6, 2018 from 3-6 pm with a reception and book signing of the monograph, MARK SELIGER PHOTOGRAPHS, with the...

Cost: no charge

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: KMR Arts
Telephone: (860)868-7533
Contact Name: Kathy McCarver Root
Website »

More information

The Fine Line Art Gallery’s Holiday Art Show 'Miniature Masterpieces' features artwork perfect for gift-giving. The exhibit will include small works of art, such as miniature...

Cost: Admission Free

Where:
Fine Line Art Gallery
319 Main Street South
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: Fine Line Art Gallery
Telephone: 203-266-0110
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

What sets the Washington Art Association’s Annual Holiday Sale apart from others is not only the exquisitely hand crafted gifts by local artisans, but a talented group of volunteers designers and...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Plaza
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Ginger Nelsen
Website »

More information

The internationally renowned Slam Allen is a messenger of love. This dynamic entertainer uses the genres of Blues, Soul, R&B, and a touch of Rock and Roll to deliver powerful soul stirring...

Cost: $30.00

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Telephone: 860-355-0300
Contact Name: Kmberly
Website »

More information

Decorating gingerbread houses has been a tradition at Hunt Hill Farm for many years. We invite you to join us this year with pastry chef extraordinaire Claire Bevington.

Cost: $90.00

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Telephone: 860-355-0300
Contact Name: Kimberly
Website »

More information

KMR Arts presents Mark Seliger: Platinum Prints. The exhibition opens on Saturday, October 6, 2018 from 3-6 pm with a reception and book signing of the monograph, MARK SELIGER PHOTOGRAPHS, with the...

Cost: no charge

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: KMR Arts
Telephone: (860)868-7533
Contact Name: Kathy McCarver Root
Website »

More information

The Fine Line Art Gallery’s Holiday Art Show 'Miniature Masterpieces' features artwork perfect for gift-giving. The exhibit will include small works of art, such as miniature...

Cost: Admission Free

Where:
Fine Line Art Gallery
319 Main Street South
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: Fine Line Art Gallery
Telephone: 203-266-0110
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

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