Area homeowner: 'Renewables are do-able'

Benjamin Patton | The Daily StarMary Jo Cronin, a partner at Revolution Solar in Milford, speaks Tuesday at a program presented by Citizen Voices at The Carriage House in Davenport. 

Investing in solar energy collection systems can benefit owners of residential and commercial properties with savings and energy efficiency, speakers at a program in Davenport said Tuesday.

“Renewables are do-able,” said Rob Head, a homeowner in Burlington, who described how solar energy systems are saving him money on heat and electricity. “It works.”

Head joined David Rowley of the town of Oneonta and James Doherty and Mary Jo Cronin, partners with Revolution Solar company in Milford, in a presentation late Tuesday afternoon.

About 50 people attended the program, which was presented by Citizen Voices and held at The Carriage House in the town of Davenport, just beyond the town of Oneonta line.

Rowley, a Citizen Voices member, said he arranged the presentation Tuesday to share information about local solar energy developments.

Rowley, an interim school superintendent and a candidate for the Oneonta Town Board, said he is converting his home, which faces southeast and gathers energy “passively” through the sun’s direct light, into a building with an active solar energy system.

Nationally, the growth of solar energy options and use is impressive, Rowley said, and solar energy will continue to be a growing sector in the U.S. economy.

On Tuesday, Doherty and Cronin reviewed the costs and benefits of the system their company is installing at Rowley’s home this year. Rowley said he expected the $23,000 cost to be reduced to about $9,000 or $8,000 after incentive discounts through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and state and federal tax credits.

Solar hot-water or thermal systems rely on the sun’s heat energy to produce hot water, according to NYSERDA, and they are effective in northern climates and eligible for incentives to reduce costs of installation, among other possible credits.

Solar electric, or photovoltaic, technology uses sunlight to produce electricity, the NYSERDA website said.

In August, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state’s multiple solar programs are transitioning to the single, statewide NY-Sun Incentive Program, a $1 billion initiative to expand use of solar and transform the state’s market into a self-sustaining industry.

Head said he installed a thermal solar system four years ago at the 42,000 square-foot house in Burlington that has been part of his wife’s family since the early 1800s. With the thermal system, the family’s use of wood for heating has decreased by more than half, he said.

Revolution Solar installed a photovoltaic system at their home that started functioning July 13, Head said, and since then, the family has paid a connection charge to a utility company but has had a “zero light bill.”

“We’re trying to make it as energy efficient as possible for the next generation,” Head said.

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