Summertime Shop Report from ReVision Energy

July 21st, 2014 by ReVision Energy

At ReVision Energy we work hard, and we play hard! And more often than not, the two intermix. After all, why can’t work be fun? Here are some of the latest happenings from our three offices

Portland Shop Commutes Another Way

Josh Baston on Commute Another Way WeekAt ReVision Energy, we strive to ‘walk the walk,’ and for the month of June our Portland office took that literally, challenging employees to commute by biking, walking, or carpooling. Much of our Portland staff lives within 20 miles of our offices, so we wanted to see if a little encouragement could get people out of their regular commuting habits and onto their bikes!

Over the course of the month, more than half of our staff participated, and five people biked, walked, or carpooled the entire month. All told, over 1,100 commuting miles were eliminated and several staffers have gone on to permanently change their commuting behavior, realizing that biking or walking has a lot of perks over driving!

New Hampshire Throws Down at Solstice Bash

Exeter NH Summer Solstice Party 2014Our annual solstice party was held Friday, June 20, and over 100 people came out from across New Hampshire, Mass, and Maine to eat and drink, mix mingle, talk solar shop, and see exhibitors including Auto Be Green, Seacoast Eat Local, and Heidelberg Farms. We had some great music, a guest appearance by a Tesla Model S, and a bounce house and other activities for kids.

Auto Be Green gets a special shout-out for being a regular exhibitor at our party, and a supplier of eco-friendly engine products that we use in our fleet, including synthetic motor oils, recyclable windshield wiper blades, and biodegradeable car care products.

Miss the festivities? Catch us next year, the party is held the Friday night closest to the summer solstice at our 7 Commercial Dr, Brentwood, NH location.

Liberty Goes On Tour with The Booth!

The Booth - MPBN Solar Powered RadioVisitors to ME Farmland Trust’s MaineFare got a special experience on top of the celebration of local food – the opportunity to speak their piece at ReVision’s new collaboration with MPBN, The Booth!

The Booth is a refurbished phone booth (remember those?) which travels to music events, film openings, festivals, and fairs with the team from MPBN and collects stories. Sort of like the StoryCorps, The Booth offers a safe space to make an audio recording, with participants prompted by a question, like, “What scientific breakthroughs are ahead?

The recording is done with a small portable audio recorder, which is powered by a small battery recharged by a solar panel donated by ReVision Energy. Be on the look out for The Booth at the Maine International Film Festival, Beach to Beacon, the Common Ground Fair, and other events this summer and fall. Follow the Booth’s journey at: http://www.mpbn.net/Events/TheBooth.aspx


Update on CMP Rate Case: Settlement Axes Worst of CMP’s Proposal

July 8th, 2014 by ReVision Energy
Glen Brand of the Sierra Club at Solar Rally

Glen Brand, executive director of Maine’s Sierra Club, takes the megaphone and says his piece about solar taxation at a solar rally held April, 2014 in protest of CMP proposed rate hike

As reported in the Portland Press Herald and on MPBN News, CMP and most intervenors in the rate design case have reached a tentative settlement which would axe the worst of CMP’s proposals – the proposed standby rate that would have singled out and punished customers who generate their own power with solar, wind, or other renewable sources.

The settlement (technically called a ‘stipulation’) instead gives CMP authority to make a 4.1% increase to all customers (to the tune of roughly $3/month).

While firmly shutting down the notion that solar customers should be singled out for a tax on their renewable energy investments, the partial settlement does not solve CMP’s long-term problems.  CMP must still figure out how to marry the increasing costs of maintaining an aging, fossil-fueled grid with energy efficiency goals, and we realize our vision for the grid and theirs are still very different.

Specifically, the settlement leaves open the question as to whether customers can or should be billed relative to their usage during system peak (the kind of usage which drives the long-term costs of grid expansion), which was the model proposed by GridSolar.  This unresolved issue will enter into litigation, and the answer to it will shape Maine’s energy future.

A Vision of the Grid

At the heart of all of this: is it acceptable that a monopoly be allowed to manipulate policy to continue the status quo, or do we have the imagination and sense to re-frame energy policy to allow renewable energy to compete on an equal playing field?  We vote strongly for the latter, as renewable-friendly policy would allow a less centralized, cleaner, and more efficient grid to replace what we have now, with investments largely driven by the private sector and not the public coffers.While this is a modest victory, it is significant, as the standby rate threatened to chill the growth of solar energy in Maine.

We would like to express our deepest thanks to the hundreds of customers and other solar allies who have been instrumental in showing up, being present, sending in letters of support, writing in to papers, speaking on the radio and appearing on television.  It is significant that in the wording of the settlement, CMP themselves noted that the “numerous members of the public at the public witness hearings and in comments filed on the Commission’s CMS system” were a factor in their deciding to abandon the standby rate.

The settlement is not yet final – it must first be deliberated on by the members of the PUC, who are expected to do so on July 29th.  Assuming the PUC’s approval, CMP’s increased rates will go into effect on September 1, 2014.

ReVision Energy continues to work hard at our mission to move New England away from fossil fuels, whether in our efforts every day to install reliable, clean-generating solar energy systems, or by working in the statehouse or PUC to advocate on behalf of the policy framework to support it.  We’re proud to be part of a state where politics are still local and part of a future where individuals will have greater opportunity to control their energy sources.

Ready to Go Forward

If the CMP Rate Case had made you anxious about going forward with a solar investment, then the time to get started again is now! Our queue is filling up quickly and we are already scheduling into September – if you want solar on your roof this year, contact us now.


Businesses move forward to the future with reusable energy sources

July 8th, 2014 by christine

Maple Hill Farm Owner, Scott Cowger Photo Credit: Amber WatermanAt Maple Hill, Cowger and his partner, Vince Hannan, took advantage of federal and state grants, as well as a low-interest loan, to install a combined solar hot water/solar electric system in 2007. The system today generates about half of the establishment’s electricity and most of the heat for hot water, as well as some radiant heating in the winter.

Seven years in, Cowger has watched the cost of solar panels drop and the technology’s efficiency skyrocket — “good news for other people,” he said.
As it turns out, those other people, including increasing numbers of business owners, are enthusiastically embracing “behind-the-meter” solar installations, in part to remediate high energy costs.

Today, solar leads the uptick in behind-the-meter renewables, largely due to a 75% drop in the initial capital investment, said Phil Coupe, owner of ReVision Energy, a leading installer of solar systems. The payback period has fallen from 20 years to nine years.

“The steep drop in costs for solar electric systems has really caused a huge shift in the return on investment that homeowners and business owners can get,” Coupe says. “Today, a business owner can get a 9% annual return on investment from a solar array. That return is greatly helped by the 30% federal tax credit. The business owner can also use an accelerated depreciation schedule, similar to a tax credit, on solar equipment. That results in an additional 18% off what the project costs.”

Full article is available here: http://www.mainebiz.biz/article/20140630/CURRENTEDITION/306269994/1088


Solar is Patriotic for Retired Army Captain

July 4th, 2014 by ReVision Energy
Marcus Therrien - US Army Capt Goes Solar

Retired US Army Capt Marcus Therrien, who served as combat medic and Army Nurse, outside his home in Southern Maine

Retired Army Capt. Marcus Therrien served in Iraq as a US Army Nurse and combat medic, but those days seem long behind him now on a warm sunny day at his suburban home in Southern Maine. Marcus now works full-time for his own building company, Wood Cove Builders (“The first time I’ve worked one job in my life,” he jokes) and enjoys spending his free time with family and friends. While he misses his Army brothers and sisters, he feels that having served as an Army Nurse, he has already worked the best job anyone can work.  Now, Marcus feels he’s made the best investment anyone can make: solar.

The Therrien’s home boasts a solar hot water system that on a good sunny day will have his domestic hot water supply at 150 degrees Fahrenheit before lunchtime. His 5.6 kw photovoltaic array generates most of the electricity consumed in his home, and allows him to enjoy guilt-free creature comforts, such as his Jacuzzi, knowing his power does not come from fossil fuel sources.

Preventing Another “War for Oil”

“I saved up the money from my deployment checks and put them into solar,” Therrien says, “It’s my part to do what’s right for our country and the planet, and it’s a lot easier to do than most people think. We’ve all got to do our part so we don’t get into another war for oil.”

Marcus also takes pride in the sense of independence that solar gives him. He heats his home mainly with wood, so with domestic hot water and electric loads taken care of, his home’s utility bills are next to nothing. This gives him a powerful peace of mind as he approaches retirement. “When electricity gets 3x what it is now, I won’t have to work extra or go out of retirement,” Marcus says. “The solar is as good as money in the bank.”

“Really, it’s a dream come true,” Marcus added. “I don’t want to live in a McMansion or anything crazy like that. We all need to smarten up, and conserve what we’ve got. I’ve seen what it takes to protect our oil interests and don’t want to be any part of that anymore. The government – and all of us – should be pushing as hard as possible to get this technology adopted on as large a scale as possible. We know we can do it, I’ve seen Fort Dix which has solar panels all over it. We just need to stop thinking it’s so hard and make it happen.”

Proudly Helping Veterans Go Solar

ReVision Energy is proud to count Marcus and many other veterans in our clientele, and we would like to express our deepest thanks for their service to the United States.  For the month of July, we are offering a special incentive – veterans of all conflicts are eligible for a $300-$500 discount on solar photovoltaic systems (depending on system size), $300 on solar hot water, and $200 on heat pump systems. The discount applies to both financed and cash purchased systems. The veterans discount overrides any other discounts available.  Contact us to learn more.


NH Staffer to Pedal 2,000 miles to raise funds for Portsmouth homeless shelter

July 2nd, 2014 by ReVision Energy

Pedal for Power Fundraiser

Chris Pamboukes is emblematic of ReVision’s staff – he’s deeply passionate about the outdoors, solar, and helping the local community. All three will combine this July as he and friend Josh Andrews embark on a 2,000 mile bike tour – Vancouver, BC to San Diego, CA – to raise funds to solarize the Cross Roads House, a homeless shelter in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

The project is called Pedal for Power, and Pamboukes and Andrews’ mission is to raise $50,000 for a 16kw solar electric project (installed at cost by ReVision Energy) which would save the shelter approximately $3,000 every year of its 35+ year lifetime, while simultaneously greatly reducing the shelter’s carbon footprint.

“Pedal for power was born out of an idea to share the idea of our epic coastal cycle trip with our community,” says Pamboukes, “Josh and I both love solar, and wanted to give something back, so we came up with the idea of helping Cross Roads House. Cross Roads serves the underserved in the Seacoast area. Last year alone they served 386 people including 26 families and 51 children.”

Located on Route 1 in Portsmouth, the Cross Roads House is a emergency transitional shelter granting people without a place to call home a moment of respite as they try to get back on their feet. In the last 31 years of service, Cross Roads has provided an estimated 500,000 sheltered nights to over 5,000 different individuals and over 500 families. Other services include breakfast and dinner 365 days a year, computer and phone access, shower and laundry facilities, job search and vocational training, mental health services, substance abuse counseling, and much more.

ReVision Commits to the Mission

To help further push off Pamboukes’ pedaling, ReVision Energy has committed a matching grant of $2,000 for donations driven in through our newsletter, website, Facebook, or blog. VisitPedalForPower.com and follow the ‘donate per mile’ link to make a secure donation to Cross Roads House/Pedal for Power.

Pedal for Power Schematic

Livening Up the Seacoast

While traveling, Pamboukes and Andrews plan on offering a daily travelogue of their adventures and raising more funds. In the meantime, they have some great events planned in the Seacoast Area! On June 14th they’ll have a booth at Market Square Day in Portsmouth where you’ll be able to find them training on their stationary bikes. On June 25th they’ll be the beneficiaries of a fundraising concert at The Thirsty Moose Tap House in downtown Portsmouth, and the recipients of proceeds from a night of Cosmic Bowling at Bowl-O-Rama in Portsmouth on June 29th.

More details on their events at:http://www.pedalforpower.com/?page_id=478.

Also be sure to follow the Pedal for Power adventures on Facebook, found at:https://www.facebook.com/pedalforpower.