Jon Chubb and his church, Second Congregational, have their eyes on the power of the sun (for generating solar energy in homes, that is) and are inviting neighbors in for a free informational event this weekend.
On Saturday, Alan Robertson from Independent Power Systems will be giving a presentation on his company’s residential solar energy systems, but he’ll also be ready to answer any general question you might have about solar panels, wind turbines or what exactly net metering is.
“As Christians, we should be caring for the environment,” Chubb says. He’s given a sermon or two on the subject and through his own research, he says, he learned a lot more about solar energy and what a “great resource” it is.
He met Richardson at a Peabody GreenFest a couple years ago and got to talking. Initially, they looked at possibly installing a solar system for the church, but quickly realized that wasn’t doable. But Chubb still wanted to help spread the word in some way. That led to hosting an informational event at the church.
“We want to use our building for positive things in the community,” he said.
Robertson says he’ll bring a scaled-down demo with him to show how a solar panel would actually connect to your house.
One of the biggest reservations homeowners still have about solar panel systems is the cost – a typical residential system ranges between $40,000 and $55,000, according to Robertson. He said that about a third of that cost can be knocked off for Massachusetts residents, however, between rebates, grants, tax credits and other financial incentives. Homeowners could also lease a system instead of purchasing it.
It usually takes between five and eight years to make back that investment, Robertson said, but at that point, you’re just saving hundreds or thousands of dollars each year on electricity and you’ve increased the value of your home. He added that customers do quickly experience month-to-month savings on their bills.
If you stop down Saturday afternoon (the event runs from noon – 2 p.m.), you can expect coffee, food, a quick presentation by Robertson and lots of time for questions and answers.
Robertson said he could also log into the company’s online monitoring system to show how some customers’ homes in Salem are progressing with energy consumption and production.
Robertson said that system is very similar to what National Grid customers, for example, can access by logging into their utility accounts online.
The whole reason why Robertson’s company is active in Peabody now is because the city’s light plant adopted a net metering policy this past spring.
Essentially what the policy does is allow solar or wind customers to send excess or unused electricity generated by their energy systems back to the grid in exchange for credits. Those credits are then used when the home is not producing much energy on its own (at night).
Ideally, it becomes a financial wash in which homeowners generate as much energy as they consume without having to pay a utility bill.
You can find the city’s policy online here from the Peabody Municipal Light Plant. Under the policy, PMLP has to approve applications for net metering and inspect homes before and after solar systems are installed.Second Congregational Church is located at 12 Maple St., and all are welcome to attend on Saturday.