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Opinion: CSA offers an affordable renewable energy option

About a year ago my wife watched a newscast on WPTZ where they ran a piece on heat pumps. Spurred by environmental and financial reasons, we were looking for a way to decrease the amount of oil we used to heat our home, so we decided to get two heat pumps for our house.
To further reduce our carbon footprint we decided to pair the heat pumps with solar panels. I explored putting panels on our roof, but unfortunately our house is shaded by a lovely grand old maple tree and I would have had to cut it down to make solar panels work on our house. That wasn’t going to happen.
Luckily the solar company offers a Community Solar Array (CSA) option. They invited me to attend an educational workshop at Ilsley Library in Middlebury. My wife and I joined the Monkton CSA in March of this year with a 7 percent share in that array. We began to see benefits immediately. Our CSA generated enough credits with Green Mountain Power to pay 100 percent of our electric bill over the summer, pay the lease payments on our heat pumps, AND give us a $726 credit on our electric bill going into the winter. Plus it has reduced our oil consumption by 50 percent. We’re saving money and reducing the amount of oil we burn thus helping to make our corner of the world just a little bit greener.
Burning fossil fuels does cause damage to our planet we are all aware of that. Solar power offers a clean alternative to burning oil, coal, gas, and even wood. I have read about concerns people have about locating solar arrays, and I do understand there are places arrays should not be built, but there are many places in Vermont where they can be built, even here in Addison County.
Our civilization is driven by electricity. Short of everyone having some sort of cold fusion unit in their house, the solar concept is unbeatable. In the future I believe we will see most new houses built with solar panels integrated into their roofs from the start. For existing housing stocks, however, I see community solar arrays as being a marvelous concept for those of us who for one reason or another cannot host solar panels.
The CSA was the only option for my family. In the 8 months we’ve been members it has been a real money saver for us. It has also enabled my wife and I as native Vermonters to find a clean energy concept that fits our worldview and in some small way helps to leave the world a cleaner place than we found it.
Bruce and Mona Baldwin
Middlebury

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