‘Solarize North Country Campaign Brightens Up’

Solarize North Country, a solar marketing initiative led by a dedicated group of volunteers from Franconia, Sugar Hill, and Bethlehem, NH, took place during the winter of 2023-24. The concept behind a solarize campaign is fairly straightforward: local volunteers assist potential customers in understanding solar energy systems and provide free publicity for a solar installer. In return, the solar company offers discounted pricing to make it more accessible for individuals to explore the benefits of solar energy.

The campaign kicked off at Iron Furnace Brewing in Franconia with a launch party in November 2023. This was followed by seven residential solar open houses where community members were able to interact with homeowners who had already adopted solar energy systems. Additionally, public events were held at various locations such as the Littleton Food Co-op, Rek’-Lis Brewing, and the Forest Society North at The Rocks, with advertisements in local newspapers and radio stations.

Financial and administrative support was pivotal for the success of Solarize North Country, with organizations such as the North Country Alliance for Balanced Change, the Ammonoosuc Regional Energy Team, the Neil and Louise Tillotson fund of the NH Charitable Foundation, and the Tiny Seed Project providing invaluable assistance.

After soliciting bids from over a dozen local solar companies, Mains Electric of Alton Bay, NH was chosen as the installer for the campaign. Their ability to cover a wide area and offer appealing discount pricing made them the ideal partner. The sign-up period for the campaign concluded on March 31, 2024, with installations currently underway in the area. Participants in the Solarize North Country initiative received a 15% discount on their systems, resulting in over 3,000 in savings for North Country homeowners both during the installation period and over the lifetime of the systems through reduced electric bills.

The impact of the Solarize North Country campaign includes over 120 requests for estimates, 35 installation contracts totaling more than 350 kw, enough to power approximately 60 homes, and 5,000 of private investment in clean energy. The initiative has not only helped individuals harness the benefits of solar energy but has also contributed to a significant financial investment in sustainable practices.

David Van Houten has been an active member of the Bethlehem Energy Commission since 2007. He can be reached at davidgvanhouten@gmail.com.

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