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The New Green: Solarize CT: last chance for cheap, solar power

By Kelsey Sullivan
On March 7, 2013

In previous articles I have explored the absolute necessity of switching over from fossil fuels to green energy as a primary fuel source. Certainly the technology to do so exists - every day the science sections of newspapers and online websites are clogged with new ways to generate renewable electricity from natural sources. The problem isn't the science - it's making the science economically and politically viable.
One of the most popular and well-known renewable technologies is solar power. The sun radiates far more energy to earth than we could ever use or have need for, and there are a variety of means of capturing and converting this energy (for example, passive and active solar home heating). Unfortunately, solar energy remains out of reach for the majority of homeowners and business operators because of the high initial cost. But there is exciting news for residents of Mansfield and Windham: the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (CEFIA) is partnering with select towns in Connecticut to enroll in a new pilot program called Solarize CT, and the Mansfield/Windham region has been chosen as a participant. The program makes solar energy much more affordable for homeowners (roughly a third of the conventional price) by encouraging bulk purchasing. According to CEFIA's website: "In less than five months, Solarize Connecticut (Program) drove twice as much adoption of residential solar in four pilot communities as those towns had seen in the last seven years. The Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (CEFIA), The John Merck Fund, and SmartPower partnered to develop this innovative program that leverages community outreach to simplify the process of installing solar and the power of group purchasing to deliver discounts on the cost of a typical solar installation."
All residents of Mansfield and Windham can look into the program to learn about their eligibility. This may be the last chance for an extended period of time to access cheap solar energy, as the last federal funding for solar and other alternative energy technologies is drying up and is unlikely to be renewed anytime soon. The Solarize CT initiative will have its kick-off event for the Mansfield/Windham area, the "Solar Launch Workshop," next Monday March 11 at 7 p.m. in the Windham Town Hall Ballroom on Main Street in Willimantic. This event is free and open to anyone. At the workshop residents can have all of their questions answered and will learn about the details of the program.
If we make this program as successful in Mansfield and Windham as it has been in previous pilot towns, we could take the first important steps toward self-sufficient energy with a solar panel on every home.

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