Solar Industry News

Q&A: Richard and Helen Regan

Richard and Helen Regan in front of their 5.5kw solar electric array installed in autumn 2014 on their garage. They also have a solar thermal system installed on their main house roof.

This month's Q&A is with Helen and Richard Regan, retired educators who live in Harpswell. They recently invested in a 5.5kw solar electric array and solar thermal system for their home. We caught up with them to discuss how the project went, what attracted them to solar, and how the system is performing so far.

Tell us a bit about yourselves - how did you get interested in solar?

Both Helen and I are retired educators and we were both undergraduate chemistry majors. My experience was mostly at the high school level teaching primarily chemistry and ecology. Helen also started her professional life as a high school chemistry teacher before moving to the college level as Professor of Education and later as a Dean.

Graduating from college in the 1960's as we did, energy was not the problem that it is today. However, teaching concepts of ecology made me aware early on in my career of the environmental interactions that we must address in our world. So in concept we have always been interested in conservation. Although the concept of solar energy has been around for a long time, the technology wasn't developed to the point of making it feasible in colder climates with limited sunlight in the winter. We were pleased to learn that thanks to technological and production innovations, the economics of solar had dramatically changed.

What turned you from being interested in solar to being solar customers? Why ReVision?

Four or five years ago we attended the Common Ground Fair at Unity Maine. We stopped at the Revision Energy tent and talked with the people there where we received an excellent update on solar energy technology. After taking information home with, us we said to each other, "We should do this someday."

Well, four years went by with children's weddings, new grandchildren or travel filling up the days. This summer we had a lighter than usual summer visitor list and, with no looming major event for the fall, we looked at each other and said, "We are in our 70's; we should do it now!" So we called Revision Energy in July.

From our first interactions with Solar Design Specialist Karen Sonstrom, we realized that the economics, technology and aesthetics of the project were all extremely favorable. The only thing that surprised us, beyond the practicalities of the project, was how genuinely excited we felt about the prospect of becoming more green. Our children are excited about that too!

By the middle of October, we had two solar hot water panels on top of our house and a photovoltaic array on our garage .

How did the installation go? Did it meet your expectations?

My wife Helen and I have been impressed with the entire ReVision experience, from Karen's visit last summer, to the completion of the project a few months ago. The skill level of everyone on your team is excellent and their work ethic is exceptional. They work safely and efficiently, and accomplish a lot in a days time.

Being educators, we place high value in being enthusiastic when interacting with our students. Our entire interaction with the people who installed our systems demonstrated that they are also very enthusiastic about what they were doing. They were very responsive to all our questions, and seems almost as excited as we are about out project! So our expectations were met and the installation was efficient and well done.

What do you like best about the system now that it's installed?

We were especially impressed by the solar hot water system. The design maximizes the amount of energy transmitted from the panels to the water and the safeguards employed seem to cover every possible contingency.

It is too early to make a definitive statement about our energy savings because the daily amount of sunlight is diminishing as we approach winter. Also we have had more cloudy days than sunny days. But even on cloudy days the photovoltaic system produces electricity and the solar hot water system warms the water in the storage tank. We feel confident that the systems on a yearly basis will easily meet the goals set by ReVision Energy for the system. And it has already exceeded our expectations for emotional impact.