Georgetown, Maine - Solar Electricity

This 4.7kw grid tied solar electric array will provide nearly all of the power for the Fiske house for the next 30 years

Don Fiske, a retired ship’s captain from the oil industry called us last week to report some odd behavior from his wife.

“She’s running around like a crazy lady,” Fiske says, “She’s in her bathrobe looking at the inverter, seeing if we’ve used any power from CMP yet – and we haven’t!”

Ruth Fiske’s behavior (solardarity?) is just one of the joys of being new owners of a grid-tied photovoltaic system.  The Fiskes had us install a 4.7kw grid-tied photovoltaic system, enough to produce about 6,000 kWh a year, nearly eliminating their electric bill.  A few weeks of sunshine later, they’re believers in the power of solar!

The Coastal Journal reports:

When Don and Ruth Fiske moved into their Georgetown home a year and a half ago, they wanted to “do something special.” They decided to do as many things as possible to go green. This week, the Fisks installed 20 solar panels onto the roof of their house as part of an alternative energy system that will supplement nearly 100 percent of their yearly electricity usage.

“Don used to work as a ship’s captain for an oil company,” said Ruth. “He made the Valdez run up in Alaska for a few years. Over just that time period he saw the Columbia glacier recede dramatically. We had always known about the Earth’s ecological problems, but that really drove it home.”

According to Ruth, the financial savings were also an incentive, but the reasons for installing the system went deeper.

“I want other people to know about this so they might think about doing it, too. It’s so important. We have to start to make a difference. Some people are doing a much better job than us, but I hope we are having some effect. My theory is, if you cut down one tree, plant six to replace it. The oxygen will circulate around the globe.”

…  According to [ReVision Energy Project Manager Joshua] Baston, the $20,500 is offset by a $2,000 rebate from the state of Maine and a 30 percent (of cost) federal tax credit. This would bring the net cost to $18,500. Baston said at current prices, this would amount to a 12 to 13 year payback period.

“This is actually a very cost effective way to bring electricity into your home,” Baston said. “Plus, banks are more receptive to loans for solar power. There are PACE [Property Assessed Clean Energy] loans from the state and loans through Efficiency Maine, too.”

Baston said most people do not choose to switch to electric heat, though many Mainers are switching to solar powered hot water heaters. Instead of heating water with oil all summer, solar is used, cutting heating costs by several hundred dollars per year. Baston said the initial investment of approximately $11,000 to $12,000 could be paid back in seven to eight years.

Reached for a few extra comments, Don said that the diversity of people in the town of Georgetown appealed to him, and he’s thrilled to have solar be part of his retirement.  “It’s real Maine.  Some people have some money, some people don’t.  But we’re all part of the same community, and we’re happy to show that solar can work for regular people.”