Solar Energy Initiative

SCRCOG is working with national, regional, and local organizations to promote the usage of solar energy throughout the region. Our goal is to promote regional education, collaboration and pro-active planning for renewable energy projects.

As a renewable energy source, solar power generates natural, sustainable, and clean energy from the sun. Additionally, solar power reduces reliance on traditional and more costly greenhouse gases. The utilization of solar power benefits the local Connecticut economy though job creation and electric grid resiliency, particularly in times of peak demand and system stresses. The advantages of solar energy are accessible to residential, public, and commercial properties.
Identifying the solar potential of your building will help quantify the potential benefits when deciding whether or not to invest in solar energy. Google Project Sunroof is an online solar map that shows the solar potential throughout Connecticut.

To view a specific report on your property, check out these online tools:

- The National Renewable Energy Laboratory PVWatts: calculates energy production and cost within grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) solar systems

- Solar Estimate: analyzes the ideal panel number and kW to install based on roof characteristics, and estimates energy savings and cost based on zip code.

Energy Sage: compares quotes from multiple solar installers, and estimates your savings and ideal solar design.
Connecticut has implemented a variety of policies to promote and develop the solar industry statewide. The Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE) lists regulatory policies affecting solar technology in Connecticut. Additionally, the Connecticut General Assembly Website allows you to stay up to date on current legislative issues and track bills pertaining to solar energy.

Community Solar

Community, or shared solar, is comprised of local solar facilities, in which the energy produced is shared by more than one property. More information on community solar can be found on the EnergySage community solar page, as well as the Solar Energies Industries Association (SEIA), community solar page. Shared solar is a great option for buildings where solar installation is not possible and multifamily housing, and also offers financial benefits to users.

Connecticut is exploring the benefits of community solar and has two active shared renewables programs:

1. Virtual Net Metering authorized for municipal customers in Section 121 of Public Act 11-80, and expanded to agricultural and state customers through Section 35 of Public Act 13-298.

2. The Shared Clean Energy Facility Pilot Program, a two-year initiative enacted through Public Act No. 15-113, in response to the creation of the statewide Shared Clean Energy Facility program in Public Act 18-50.
SolSmart has a variety of resources to aid local government solar development efforts, such as:

A General Guide for Local Governments

Best Practices in Solar Planning and Zoning (webinar and slide deck)

Best Practices in Solar Permitting and Inspection (webinar and slide deck)

- SolSmart Field Inspection Checklist

- Guidelines to Simplify the Permitting Process

A Solar + Storage Guide for Local Governments

- Webinars for expanding solar in low-to-moderate income communities (Part 1 & Part 2)

- SolSmart's Practical Approaches to Installing Solar Technology on Historic Properties

- SolSmart's guide to Solar Development on Public Facilities and Under-Utlized Land

These resources, along with others, are summarized in a streamlined process in SolSmart’s toolkit for Local Governments. Additionally, municipalities may apply for SolSmart Designation HERE – SolSmart provides free consultation, free technical assistance and free trainings to help you achieve designation seamlessly.

Energize CT has also developed a webpage which compiles resources for local governments in the areas of permitting, inspection, training, planning and zoning, and project deliverables.

The Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO), a branch of the U.S. Department of Energy, has also compiled a database of solar resources for government officials on the topics of procurement, financial support and technical assistance.
Installation

Finding a Provider:

There are many online databases to help consumers find active solar providers in Connecticut. These include:

- The Energize CT database of solar contractors.

- EnergySage list of Top Solar Companies in Connecticut pre-screened by EnergySage professionals for their years of experience, licensing and insurance, reputation, and certifications. EnergySage also has a list of Top Solar Companies in New Haven County, to focus on the municipalities within the South Central Region.

- The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners® (NABCEP®) directory of certified solar practitioners in Connecticut. This directory also provides the company these professionals work for, if applicable. While not all experienced installers will have this credential, those that do will have to adhere to certain quality standards.

Choosing a Company:

Choosing who will install your solar system is much like choosing any other contractor – it is important to select a reputable installer that will provide the best deal for your project.

Solar Reviews provides independent reviews of solar installers and manufacturers, allowing you to compare different companies and customer reviews to find the best match for your project.

Tips for the solar installation process, as well as steps to ensure you select the best possible contractor can be found on the Eversource Solar Installation webpage. Eversource has also compiled a list of questions to ask to guide your research and inquiries into solar installers.

Inspection

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) has developed a Model Inspection Checklist for Residential Rooftop PV , which is an excellent guide for local governments when developing a solar inspection process.

SolSmart Field Inspection Checklist

Consumer Protection

The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection has developed a Solar Panel Buyer’s Guide to educate consumers, protect them from scams and promote a smooth transition to solar power. The Department also has information on solar licensing, as they hold the authority to issue solar-thermal and solar-electricity licenses and permits. Furthermore, SEIA has created a Solar Business Code, which all members of the industry are expected to abide to.

In addition, the IREC has developed a Clean Energy Consumer Bill of Rights to address important consumer issues of safety, contracts, warranties, advertising, privacy and access. The IREC also developed a Be Solar Smart Consumer Checklist, to guide potential solar customers through the process.

GoSolarCT is a website sponsored by the Connecticut Green Bank that is committed to providing Connecticut consumers with the information they need to go solar with confidence. The website provides information and resources in what they have identified as four key steps in the consumer solar journey: Getting into Solar, Savvy Solar Shopping, Solar Installation and Solar Living.

More information on the process of installing solar on your property can be found in SEIA’s Residential Consumer Guide to Solar Power, or the Homeowner’s Guide to Going Solar from the United States Department of Energy.
There are a variety of rebates, incentives and financing programs available to ease the financial burden of solar installation. Below are some of key organizations and databases in Connecticut that provide resources and/or programs for solar financing:

Connecticut Green Bank

- Incentives and low-cost financing programs for Municipalities, Homeowners and Building/Commercial Property owners.

- Resources for upgrades to Multifamily Housing.

Solar leasing opportunities for low-moderate income families in partnership with PosiGen, emphasizing the importance of solar accessibility and affordability for all U.S. households.

- Resources for residential and commercial contractors on how to utilize the rebates, incentives and financing programs to make solar installation more affordable for their customers.

The Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE)

- Allows users to review the regulatory policies and solar incentives that are available to ease the financial burden of solar system installation.

Federal incentives, administered by the U.S. federal government.

State specific incentives for Connecticut.

New Haven County eligible incentives: focus on municipalities within the South Central Region.

Additional Solar Financing Resources

- Clean Energy States Alliance Homeowner’s Guide to Solar Financing: provides a more in depth overview of solar financing options to help consumers make informed decisions.

- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also provides an overview of the solar financing process, as well as options for incentives and benefits.

- EnergySage highlights some of Connecticut’s top solar rebate and incentive programs.

- Solar Reviews also has a solar incentives page, equipped with a rebates and tax credits calculator to estimate the value of incentives your home/building is eligible for.

- GoSolarCT has developed a webpage explaining State Solar Incentives for Connecticut.

- The U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, has developed a Homeowner’s Guide to the Federal Tax Credit for Solar PV
SOLSMART

SolSmart is a national program encouraging local and regional governments to adopt policies and practices that foster local solar markets and promote the utilization of solar power.

Participating municipalities and other government entities are recognized for accomplishing certain goals, such as streamlining the process of solar power implementation, by receiving Solsmart designation. Solsmart helps participants achieve designation by developing a library of resources and providing no-cost professional technical assistance and advisors.

In the South Central Region, the towns of Hamden and Branford have achieved SolSmart designation. Additionally, in Connecticut, the cities/towns of Coventry, Fairfield, Middletown, Hartford and Stratford have achieved SolSmart designation as of 2020.

Click here to get started and apply for SolSmart designation. Click here to access the SolSmart Program Guide.

SCRCOG has been awarded a SolSmart Silver designation. As the ninth regional government organization in the United States to receive SolSmart designation, SCRCOG demonstrates a commitment to making the region more solar-friendly and environmentally sustainable by adopting programs and practices that make it faster, easier, and more affordable to go solar.

USEFUL LINKS

Additional tools for calculating your Solar Rooftop Potential and Potential for Savings

Connecticut Green Bank Solar Success Stories: the Power of Positive Energy Work

Online Permitting Systems for CT Municipalities

Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) Customer Resource Portal

Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) Connecticut Solar Fact Sheet

U.S. Energy Information Administration Connecticut State Profile and Energy Estimates