SunCommon, a Waterbury-based solar company, is offering homeowners the chance to swap to solar and generate their own energy at a cost less than utility companies are charging.
“I have never met a Vermonter who wasn’t interested in going solar, but solar used to be too expensive. Starting today, homeowners can get solar for no money down and a monthly payment that is the same or less than what the homeowner would have had to pay the electric company,” said James Moore, co-president of the new venture, SunCommon.
SunCommon is a new business whose mission is to increase the production of solar energy across the state. It uses a community organizing approach to spread the word of this opportunity – holding educational presentations at house parties, civic groups, faith-based organizations, schools, town energy committees and the like. “It’s neighbor to neighbor, the Vermont way of spreading the word,” said co-president Duane Peterson.
Waterbury state Representative Tom Stevens added, “I am pleased to welcome SunCommon to Waterbury so that we can expand solar in our community and help families save money on their utility bills. In addition, SunCommon is based right here, adding jobs and helping rebound our local economy in the midst of our Irene recovery work."
The company has created 32 new green jobs, both within SunCommon and its contracted installer. “We are staffed up, trained up and ready to make it really easy for Vermonters to go solar. Each customer is assigned to one of our solar guides who will walk them through the easy process and show how going solar will save them money,” added Peterson.
SunCommon is the outgrowth of a VPIRG energy pilot program whose community organizing approach within that nonprofit organization helped more than 300 families go solar in Vermont. To properly meet this demand, SunCommon was created as a separate entity that could take in the start-up capital and scale up to make this solar opportunity even more broad.
SunCommon is a social mission-driven venture for the purpose of bringing about positive change. Its co-founders Duane Peterson and James Moore have decades of experience in community organizing and socially responsible business. SunCommon is one of Vermont’s first Benefit Corporations, the new legal structure that allows businesses to operate not just to maximize profit but to attend to the needs of their employees, neighbors, communities and nature according to the so-called triple bottom line of people, plant and profit.
The new business operates out of The Energy Mill in Waterbury, which produces on site all the energy it needs. “After Irene devastated so many Vermont towns, we wanted to locate where our business could be a little shot in the arm for a recovering community. Waterbury has been so welcoming and our green building was created for just sustainable businesses like ours,” added Peterson.
Alas, no solar panels are manufactured in Vermont. So SunCommon scoured for the highest quality products made and chose to partner with a U.S. company, SunPower. They are efficient, and have a 25-year warranty. And SunPower makes its products available through a lease program with no money down and a monthly cost at or below what customers would have had to pay the utility. That payment is fixed for the life of the lease, so SunCommon customers will save money every year as the utility continues to raise its rates, but the solar payment is locked in,” added Moore.