A solar company based in Waterbury is urging residents of northeastern Vermont to harness the sun.
SunCommon got its start as a spin-off from the Vermont Public Interest Research Group only three years ago. It’s already installed 1,200 residential systems and eight larger community arrays of panels for 300 members in several communities, including Milton and Barre. Now it’s looking for more customers in the southern part of the Northeast Kingdom.
The company held a kickoff event at the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium in St. Johnsbury, where solar panels will soon sprout in the parking lot. Fairbanks Director Adam Kane says the system will lower its electricity bills and also serve as a kind of classroom for the 12,000 students who visit the Museum each year.
“So we’re so excited to roll out an educational program over the next year that really capitalizes on doing the right thing, saving money and capturing that educational value,” Kane said.
SunCommon Co-President Duane Peterson hopes to sign up at least 100 new residential solar customers in the Northeast Kingdom next year.
“We’re really excited to make a difference and we do this work community by community,” he said.
Solar power is gaining a foothold fast in Vermont. There are now over 70 companies installing panels, employing about 1,300 people.
Some neighbors of large solar arrays complain about the loss of scenic views in a beautiful setting. But SunCommon’s Peterson says siting decisions can and should balance the need for renewable energy with the preservation of rural landscape.
Sun Common is holding a string of public information sessions over the next few weeks.
This story was clarified on May 13.