About three years ago, I saw a large sign at the Hendrick Hudson Library, a regular stop on my travels around town, proclaiming “Solarize Cortlandt.” I looked into it, and learned about a program that encouraged residents of Cortlandt to install solar panels on their homes. Among the incentives were volume discounts, and the fact that the town had pre-vetted the solar installer company. I called them up, and while on the phone — through the magic of Google maps — they determined that our home was a good candidate due to the large south-facing roof that was mostly unshaded by the trees surrounding our house due to the hilliness of our site. A home visit came next, with a slide show presentation of our options, the cost and benefits of each, all with estimated numbers for our roof, our yearly energy usage, and our local sun conditions. I was impressed!
Jeff and I liked the idea of reducing our carbon footprint. And besides, although our payback time is in years, (probably about 8-10), the next homeowner will also benefit from lower energy bills — which probably makes our house worth a bit more. So we decided to go for it.
We’re happy we did! In the 2 and a half years since we’ve had the panels, they’ve produced about 55% of our total electricity, and, according to our Enlighten Energy application (also available on iPhone and Android), they’ve produced 18MW hours of energy, equivalent to the carbon offset of planting 325 trees. One month ConEd actually paid us! The system is reliable, silent (except for the banging on our roof the week they were installed!), and requires zero maintenance. I admit that, as an engineer and something of a geek, I love checking the daily plots of energy production; noticing the effect of the leafing of the trees, the impact of temperature on efficiency, and the sad fact that even a quarter inch of snow completely shuts out the sun!
I’ve noticed many of my neighbors in Cortlandt seem to also have taken advantage of this program, and solar panels have sprouted like flowers in the spring. It’s nice to see people investing in our planet.
If you haven’t already heard, there is another “Solarize” program that everyone here can take advantage of right now, as part of the Hudson River Presbytery. It’s called Solarize Our Congregation. The opportunity to sign up runs until early June. If you’re considering solar, this is the time to check it out.
While I love the fact that each month ConEd gets significantly less money from us, what makes me feel even better is that a lot of the power we are using is not coming from Indian Point, or natural gas turbines. Rather, each morning we begin again to generate power from nothing more than the rising sun. How cool is that?