Sutton joins Grafton in Solar Challenge
By Robert Fucci
Sutton Board of Selectmen Chair David Hall assured representatives from Direct Energy Solar the town would be enthusiastic about using solar panels on residential homes. Photo by Robert Fucci SUTTON – Residents wanting to go solar will soon have a new option.
At its May 3 meeting, the Board of Selectmen unanimously voted to authorize Direct Energy Solar to exclusively offer residents the option to purchase solar panels.
The program is a joint effort with the Town of Grafton and called the Sutton- Grafton Solar Challenge.
“We’ve been through this before with Millbury,” Town Administrator Jim Smith said. “We went through an energy fair and a joint committee. Four-hundred people signed up willing to have their houses used for potential solar. Only 26 went solar. That was a disappointing rate of return.”
During his presentation to the Board, Business Development Manager Tim D’Souza said the program will offer residents many benefits, including a 10-year power production guarantee and a 10-year workmanship warranty.
“(If there are issues), with the workmanship warranty we will come out and fix it with no labor charge,” said Regional Sales Manager Troy Herrod. “If they go wrong, it’s typically right after installation.”
Residents will be given an estimate of how much they can expect to save with the solar panels, which have a life expectancy of 30-35 years.
If production numbers come up short, the company cuts a check to homeowner to cover the shortage
“It’s in the company’s best interest the system is working optimally so we don’t get into that situation,” D’Souza said.
D’Souza said he would view 50 sales as the ultimate goal, with 100 as a stretch goal. As an example of how the project has worked elsewhere, he said the Town of Belmont had a target of 50; currently, there are 172.
Residents who opt for the panels will also receive a retail price of $3.25/watt, a 30 percent federal tax credit, and a 15 percent state tax credit.
The net system cost is $12,650.
The first 20 residents to sign up across both towns will also receive a $500 discount.
Unlike some other companies that offer no-money-down lease options, Direct Energy Solar only offers them through a purchase.
“This is Sutton’s second bite of the apple,” Vice Chair John Hebert said. “One of the problems before was a commitment to keeping appointments on time. They didn’t get an explanation.”
“That won’t be a problem,” Herrod said. “I can guarantee that.”
As part of the program, volunteers from each town will be needed for assistance with outreach initiatives.
“We do all the training (of the volunteers),” D’Souza said. “We just need the town to be enthusiastic of wanting to do this.”
Chairman David Hall said that wouldn’t be a problem.
“We’re committed to these kinds of energy projects,” Hall said. “If you are looking for enthusiasm, you’ll get it from us. We are enthusiastic about these projects. For the residents (looking into solar), I think this is a great avenue for them.”
Work on the project will begin later this month and last through Sept. 3.