The 7kw solar array on the Massachusetts home of the Whitleys will produce around 9,000 kWh of clean, solar electricity each year
When Ray and Joann Whitley installed a geothermal heating system in their Salisbury, Massachusetts home two years ago, they were thrilled to eliminate the cost of heating oil from their budget.
“While our electric bill did go up because the geothermal back up is an electric fan, it only went up about a third of what we had been paying for oil for the year,” according to Joann.
“We decided to go ahead and install some solar panels on our garage to offset the electrical cost of running the system,” Ray chimed in.
Going Solar in Massachusetts
The Whitley’s contracted ReVision Energy, a renewable energy company with branches in Maine and New Hampshire, to install their new solar photovoltaic system. ReVision’s Exeter, NH branch is only 17 miles from the Whitley’s home in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts has one of the most generous solar state rebate programs in the country, making clean solar energy more accessible for homeowners such as the Whitleys. In addition to a 30% federal tax credit, Massachusetts offers a Commonwealth Energy Credit (CEC) of up to $.85/watt for 5,000 watts DC of production, as well as a $1,000 State Income Tax Credit. Massachusetts also has a Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SREC) program, a market-based program which compensates a homeowner from .29c/kWh – .55c/kWh for each kWh of solar electricity generated.
“If they didn’t have the rebates we couldn’t have afforded to do it,” as Ray put it.
The Whitley’s decision to go green was rooted in part in their shared concern about global warming.
“I’m retired, but I was a science teacher for 24 years,” Ray said. “I taught Earth Science at Triton Middle School in Byfield, so I am very concerned about the carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere.”
Geothermal also proved to be practical replacement for the home’s aging heating system.
“We were using oil,” Ray recalled. “The situation was that the oil furnace and the tank were both getting old and we were concerned about leakage, so we took them out.”
“A friend of ours had installed geothermal, so we inquired and got interested,” he said. “We ended up going with it.”
Two years later, the couple has nothing but good things to say about the system.
“It does an excellent job,” Ray said. “The system is totally clean. We have one filter that we have to hose off twice a year. Nothing that’s going to create a mess like oil sometimes does.”
Results of Photovoltaic Solar Production
The Whitley’s are already pleased with the performance of their new solar photovoltaic system.
“We’ve had it about a month in operation, generated about 500 KW/hrs on the panels,” according to Ray, who has made a hobby of monitoring the solar array’s energy production.
“Even today we are generating about 25 KW/hrs, with just 9 hours of sunlight on a good clear winter day,” he noted.
Still a teacher at heart, Ray is more than happy to share his knowledge of renewable energy.
“Japan and Iceland use geothermal from the plate tectonics,” he said. “All you need is groundwater with a temperature around 60 degrees. We have two wells in the backyard, around 4 inches across and 300 feet down. That’s where all the action is. It’s buried 5 feet down so you don’t even see the wells at all.”
Of course, Ray’s appreciation for renewable energy isn’t strictly rooted in science.
“It’s nice to see the oil trucks drive by and not have to stop,” he said with smile. With solar combined with the clean heat of geothermal, the Whitleys have a lot of smiles to give in the years ahead.