(3) 250 Summit Road

“We’re electrifying our entire lifestyle, so our car, hot water, heat, cooling are all coming from the sun.”

Catherine and Rob Koning

What motivated you to install solar?
Mostly, concerns about climate change and the devastating environmental, social and economic effects of fossil fuel extraction and burning, but also a desire to reduce costs in the long run.

How many panels do you have, and if you know, how much energy are you producing, percentage of your electric usage?
24 panels, 330 w each, have produced 2.3 mWh since the system was installed in August of 2020, this has provided 100% of our electric usage.  Unfortunately, that is the “net” effect over the year, of course we used more in winter than we produced so our bills were not insignificant. In 2019 we spent $964 on electricity, giving us about a 17.5-year payback, not counting the 26% tax credit. I was fairly horrified to realize that we are paying $0.21 per kWh for electricity, I hadn’t really realized how expensive it is!

What has been the biggest benefit so far? What are you excited about?
We have wanted to have photovoltaic solar for 17 years, so the biggest benefit is the feeling of satisfaction, knowing that we are contributing to solving the problem of climate change. Electrifying our entire lifestyle, so our car, hot water, heat, cooling are all coming from the sun. Over the 25 year lifespan of the panels, we are estimated to be preventing about 136 tons of CO2 from entering the air. Also, knowing that we are not only providing clean electricity for ourselves, but we are also exporting energy to the grid as well.

What were the obstacles to installing solar and what did you do to overcome them?
The first obstacle was financial, of course.  After that, it was challenging to understand the process for city approval, the utility approval, and lastly the Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), which we are still struggling with. Every time I went in they told me there was something else I needed to have on the application. The city should have a checklist of information and items needed. For Rob, who did the installation himself, there were numerous technical challenges which he faced with assistance from many people.

We originally wanted a roof-mounted system, but our roof would have needed serious work to be strong enough for the panels, which was an unpleasant surprise.  Fortunately we have the room to install the ground-mounted panels.  The biggest obstacle was the scarcity of local expertise, since this was a homeowner-installed project.

New in 2020, Keene offers resources for homeowners who wish to install solar including a checklist of everything you’ll need.

What advice do you have for people considering installing solar?
Ask a lot of questions of potential installers, they aren’t always very clear at explaining what might be needed on your roof when they give you a quote. Work with an installer you trust!

Anyone who hopes to install a roof-mounted project should have an engineer inspect the strength of the roof (inside), not just the condition of the roof exterior. This should be done VERY early in the planning, not after installing a new roof like we did!

Anything else you want to share?
We have found that the system can go off-line: there was almost a whole month (in June!) when the system wasn’t working, and we didn’t know because we were away and not monitoring the solar app.  It was probably caused by a lightning strike or something, and it was easy to fix (resetting the breaker), but we missed several peak solar weeks.

Over the 25 year lifespan of the panels, we are estimated to be preventing about 136 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the air.