Solar power in Connecticut is reaching a sort of critical mass. People in the state are switching over to it in droves as the government there makes it easier to afford a photovoltaic, or PV, system. This, combined with the ongoing drop in PV installation costs, means that many families who could not have seriously considered sun panels five or ten years ago can start now. In fact, CT is the second state in the nation to have reached grid parity in residential energy. This means that the cost of electricity generated by alternative means (in this case, solar) is comparable to traditional means of energy production. This is a huge step in ensuring the ongoing production of renewable energy, and state legislators have passed a mandate that demands that at least 23 percent of the electricity used there is produced through renewable means by 2020. In other words, PV systems aren’t going anywhere, and lawmakers are making it more attractive to latch on to this technology.
So, the question is: how does a homeowner get started with solar power in Connecticut? Any resident looking to get panels installed will want to go through the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority, or CEFIA, in the state. The CEFIA is a pretty novel concept, and leverages public resources and private sector funds to help homeowners finance their clean energy installations. This can actually save the government some money, as it reduces the need for grants, tax credits and subsidies. In addition, it propels the state toward energy independence and reduces its need on federal funding to build up the infrastructure needed for electricity generated by green sources.
Taking advantage of the CEFIA’s knowledge will help a homeowner find a reputable and supported contractor. It starts getting a little complicated once the decision to switch has been made, so get ready to get familiar with the industry.
First, figure out what the home will need from a PV system. Will it need to cover all of the energy needs of the home, or will partial coverage be enough? A PV setup that handles all of the home’s needs will break even in five to six years, so it’s a wise medium-term investment. Also, solar power in Connecticut is usually done with higher efficiency panels, as the amount of peak sunlight is fairly low in the northeast. These higher efficiency panels will cost a bit more, but they’ll take up less space and wring out more energy from the sun.
There are two major financial relief programs that are offered by CEFIA, and they can both make solar power in Connecticut highly affordable. A homeowner can either elect for a hefty one-time rebate during installation of the system, or for performance payments. The rebate can return thousands back to the buyer immediately, and this is generally preferred over performance payments, which are small bonuses a utility company will pay to the PV owner for producing excess energy and loading it to the grid.
The CEFIA website currently lists over 60 contractors that are eligible for benefits. This should be the starting point for anyone interested in solar power in Connecticut.