Madison County Community Exceeds Solarize Madison’s Expectations


(Madison County, NY – Aug. 25, 2012) Solarize Madison announced that interest in Solarize Madison County has exceeded expectations and that the program is still open for enrollment until the registration deadline.  Participants must enroll in the program by Sept. 30 to benefit from the discounted pricing that the program offers.

The campaign’s limited-time pricing provides a discount on solar installations and offers community members a step-by-step educational process to learn about solar systems.  Greg Tyler, professor at Morrisville State College who contracted to install a 3kW system with Arista Power said, “I am delighted with the Solarize Madison project.  I had investigated getting solar power installed a few years ago and did not get very far. Most would not perform a free site survey. One installer told me I could not do a roof mounted system but must install a pole mounted system and did not explain why or offer other alternatives.  The financial and installation processes were not explained either.”

As part of Solarize Madison, Registrants will have a free site assessment to determine solar suitability, and up to a 50 percent price discount derived from the program’s tiered pricing.  He further claims, “With Solarize Madison I had two free site visits. Everything was explained in detail. I was given alternatives to pole mounted systems, financing and a lease option. Most importantly the system I signed up for is one and a half times as powerful for about two thirds the net cost, and this is despite the fact that additional electrical upgrades are included that weren’t included in the first quote.  I can’t wait until the system is up and operating.”

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Since the campaign’s launch in June, Madison County residents have been lining up to participate in the neighborhood’s limited-time Solarize campaign.  So far, over 150 Madison residents have registered and 17 have contracted to install a solar system.  According to Stan Roe, the first to lease a 10kW system with ETM Solar, “Our garage faces south; on wintry days when water dripped from the eave we’d think about solar power.  We’d had a couple of estimates, but it took Solarize Madison to get us off the peg.   The bottom line for both lease and buy was better than we’d seen before.  We did the math and, in our case, it made sense to pay up front for a 20-year lease of 21 panels.   The panels available from the leasing company are more efficient and we don’t have to worry about maintenance.   Had we been able to use all the tax incentives we would have bought a direct own system.  This is an investment.  Any way you look at it, it will pay off better than keeping the money in a CD or bank account.”

Thus far, pricing for direct own systems has moved to price Tier III (75-100kW) and the price will drop another 10 cents in price tier IV (>100kW).  According to Dr. Martin Staller, one of the first Madison County residents to contract with Arista Power for a10kW solar system through the campaign, “There are a few in the community who might remember the two electric lines separated by a glass knob supplying electricity to our electric lights, which were also gas lamps.  Those were the days of wood burning stoves and gas water heaters, if we were lucky. How rich we are today to be able install the newest technology to generate our own electricity directly from the sun.  We have come such a long way and we either keep up- or get off.  There are so many incentives to buy a solar PV system, we felt we had to keep up.”

According to NYSERDA, this year, Madison County has two completed installations and five applications approved, for a total of 40.5kW of new solar.  In the past eight years, from 2003-2011, Madison County had 19 residential systems for a total of 93kW of solar.  Since the Solarize Madison program launched, Madison County has contracted to install 95.5kW of new solar, exceeding the previous eight years total kilowatts of solar PV installed and doubling the installation rate.  In recent news, Gov. Cuomo has signed three bills (August 17th) effective immediately, one provides state tax credits to homeowners who lease a solar PV system or contract for a power purchase agreement whereas before it only applied to direct own systems.

Chris Rossi, Director of Citizens for Safe Energy and a Madison County resident said,   “I grew up in a home where energy conservation and good environmental practices were a part of life. But perhaps it was my former involvement with STOP NYRI anti-power line effort that really got me thinking about how we use and generate energy. Solar energy for my home use is green energy generation to feel positive about.

“When Solarize Madison made it economically possible for me to go solar it was hard to resist. I liked the idea of Madison County making this feasible for its citizens through group buying and the financial scholarships,” Rossi said. “The energy loan from Citizen’s Bank was also helpful in covering whatever costs were left after the NYSERDA incentives. And, because my energy needs are already modest it will only take a small pole-mounted system to practically zero out my electricity bill.”

The Solarize Madison program was made possible in part through funding from the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board (CNY RPDB) through the Central New York Climate Change Innovation Program (C2IP). The C2IP program provided Madison County with up to $30,000 to promote the use of energy conservation measures and alternative energy development aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The CNY RPDB is working with seven municipalities throughout the Central New York region thanks to a funding received as part of the U.S. EPA Climate Showcase Communities Program.

The Madison County Planning Department is utilizing the C2IP funding to offer fifteen $2,000 grants to homeowners to help offset the acquisition costs associated with installing a direct-own solar photovoltaic system in addition to the reduced price achieved through the volume purchasing. Grant recipients have agreed to serve as “Solar Ambassadors” to assist with the promotion of the program. All of the fifteen $2,000 grants have been claimed; NYSERDA, NYS, and Federal tax incentives are still available.


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