Solar energy promotion program offered for New London homeowners

New London — Resident Nick Roman said he’s been saving $100 per month on his electricity bill since having 33 solar panels installed on his roof in May 2015, along with an energy audit to make his Mansfield Road home more efficient.

“I had no idea how leaky my house was,” he said. “You’ve probably heard that solar is expensive, that it’s just for rich people, but this program was almost too good to be true.”

Roman was referring to the solar panel lease and energy-efficiency programs offered through a partnership of PosiGen, which installs and leases the panels and helps arrange the energy audits, and the Connecticut Green Bank, the quasi-public agency that provides financing for renewable energy projects.

PosiGen, a private, New Orleans-based company that recently has expanded into Connecticut and works throughout the state, sent company officials to New London on Tuesday to announce a special promotion available to owners of single-family homes in the city.

The savings Roman has been seeing on his electricity bill offset the monthly cost of the panels, which produce electricity fed directly into the home’s utility system, said Thomas Neyhart, chief executive officer of PosiGen.

Any excess power flows into the electricity grid, and is credited on Roman’s monthly bill from Eversource, he said.

During the New London promotion through the end of the year, homeowners will pay $19.99 per month to lease solar panels from the company for the first six months, then $79 per month for the duration of the 20-year contract with the company.

There are no income or minimum credit requirements to qualify.

Thus far, the company has installed or is under contract to install panels on 600 homes statewide, Neyhart said, including many in the three other cities where the special promotion has been offered — Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport.

Connecticut Green Bank formed a partnership with PosiGen to help it achieve its goal of having 300 megawatts of the state’s residential electricity come from solar energy, said Kerry O’Neill, managing director of residential programs for the bank.

The agency chose the for-profit company because of its emphasis in reaching low- and moderate-income residents, she said.

“We have this mandate to make solar affordable for all our residents,” she said. “PosiGen combines solar with energy efficiency, and that’s when the magic happens.”

Neyhart said the company hopes to install panels on 150 New London homes by the end of the year, and plans to hire 15 to 25 salesmen, subcontractors and others to work in the city.

The average home, he said, can generate about 6.12 kilowatts of electricity from rooftop panels, and saves $110 to $140 per month on electricity bills between the excess energy produced and the power savings through efficiency.

“We guarantee you’ll save more than you’ll pay on your solar bill,” he said. “We won’t install a system unless it will save the homeowner money.”

The program is available only for residential properties, but similar programs for businesses are offered through the Green Bank, O’Neill said.

Mayor Michael Passero said the PosiGen-Green Bank partnership chose New London for its next promotion at the urging of the city’s Office of Development and Planning, which has been working on several projects to foster energy efficiency in residents’ homes.

“They’re trying to improve the city’s housing stock,” he said. “This partnership brings us to the next level. I’m excited about the jobs this will create and the opportunity for residents to get their homes to be more energy efficient.”

While city officials invited the project to come to New London, city government will not get any direct benefit, said Judi Cox, loan specialist in the city’s Office of Planning and Development.

There are no solar panels on city buildings, she said, but the mayor has begun an initiative to increase energy efficiency and use of renewable energy sources for city buildings, and will look to include solar panels on new school buildings.

A proposal to install solar panels on the city-owned Water Street Parking Garage is not being pursued, however, after the city's Parking Authority learned that the garage could not support the weight of solar panels without a major investment to upgrade the structure, said Carey Redd, director of parking.

State Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, said that as a ranking member of the state legislature’s Energy and Technology Committee, he is pleased that this project advances the state’s renewable energy objectives.

“The ultimate goal is for an independent, sustainable supply of renewable energy for Connecticut, at pricing that is reasonable and affordable,” he said. “This is a huge step toward attaining these goals.”

j.benson@theday.com

For more information about the PosiGen-Connecticut Green Bank program, contact Douglas Leash, renewable energy specialist for PosiGen, at dleash@posigen.com">dleash@posigen.com or (203) 581-4317. Visit www.posigen.com.

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