Here comes the sun

When Rob Figler arranged to have 30 solar panels installed on his Wiggin Road home in Bedford, he didn’t hire an installation company.

Instead, he turned to the members of a local nonprofit organization that promotes renewable energy to help him do the work for free.

Figler is a member of the Hillsborough County Area Renewable Energy Initiative – known as HAREI, for short – which is committed to helping residents and businesses implement more efficient and sustainable energy practices.

Members of the organization, which focuses primarily on solar photovoltaic technologies for producing clean, renewable energy from the sun, enjoy sizable savings on solar panel installation projects through group orders for equipment and by relying on each other for free help.

Fourteen HAREI volunteers helped Figler install the panels on his roof during an event the organization calls a "solar raiser" – a group effort in the style of an old-fashioned barn raising.

Volunteers on the ground carried panels, loaded them on a lift and raised them to volunteers standing on scaffolding. The volunteers there grabbed the panels off the lift and handed them up to Figler and several others on the roof.

It was "a lot of work to get to this point," Figler said after the group finished the three-hour job on a recent Saturday. "I’m grateful for all the hands that showed up today."

The volunteers were a mix of homeowners who are planning to have a solar raiser at their home or who are thinking about having one done, or have already had an installation by members and were there to return the favor.

"That’s the sort of social contract we have," said Milford resident Scott Lawrence, referring to the reciprocation among members. "It’s not a written deal, and we’ve never had anybody resist that idea."

One of the people helping Figler was Adam Jacobs, a Hollis resident who had scheduled a solar raiser to install 34 panels on the roof of his Crestwood Road home the following Saturday.

During the solar raiser at Jacobs’ house, Merrimack resident Mark Duckworth was one of the 15 volunteers helping out. It was the first solar raiser for Duckworth, who said he’s researching to determine if it makes sense to have an installation done at his home.

"I wanted to learn something, see how it’s done," he said.

Although roof panel systems are generally the most cost effective, HAREI also does ground-mounted installations.

According to the organization, homeowners who want to install panels should plan to stay in their home for at least five years. Two to four months of lead time, depending on their project’s complexity and selected technology, is usually required.

Prior to a solar raiser, homeowners determine how much they’re paying for electricity and then decide how large a system they want. They must secure the necessary permits and approvals to install the panels and connect to the electric grid.

After their project is completed, they can obtain a federal income tax credit of 30 percent of the total installation cost and a state rebate, usually in the amount of $2,500.

"Some of the time, when you’re not using all the power that your panels are producing, it’s going back out into the electrical grid," Lawrence said, adding that homeowners earn credits by doing so.

According to Lawrence, one of the organization’s leaders, HAREI members typically pay only 50 to 60 percent of what a company-installed system would cost them.

Lawrence, who paid roughly $23,000 for his ground-mounted system, estimates he would have paid $40,000 for a commercial installation.

With the sun powering his home, he pays roughly $13, a fixed charge on his electric bill, monthly to Eversource.

Prior to the installation of his panels, Figler mounted the necessary equipment, including rails, wiring and micro-inverters, to his roof.

Before his solar raiser, he said he was paying about $2,000 annually on electricity. He estimates he will recoup the cost of his installation after 4 1/2 years of electricity cost savings.

To date, HAREI members, who display a friendly camaraderie while working together, have done about 20 solar raisers.

They "want to do something personally about climate change and clean power generation," Lawrence said. "We’re all enjoying the fact that we’re taking more carbon out of the world, we’re saving money, we’re all into this as being the right thing (to do). For a lot of people, it’s a really good investment."

Here comes the sun

When Rob Figler arranged to have 30 solar panels installed on his Wiggin Road home in Bedford, he didn’t hire an installation company.

Instead, he turned to the members of a local nonprofit organization that promotes renewable energy to help him do the work for free.

Figler is a member of the Hillsborough County Area Renewable Energy Initiative – known as HAREI, for short – which is committed to helping residents and businesses implement more efficient and sustainable energy practices.

Members of the organization, which focuses primarily on solar photovoltaic technologies for producing clean, renewable energy from the sun, enjoy sizable savings on solar panel installation projects through group orders for equipment and by relying on each other for free help.

Fourteen HAREI volunteers helped Figler install the panels on his roof during an event the organization calls a "solar raiser" – a group effort in the style of an old-fashioned barn raising.

Volunteers on the ground carried panels, loaded them on a lift and raised them to volunteers standing on scaffolding. The volunteers there grabbed the panels off the lift and handed them up to Figler and several others on the roof.

It was "a lot of work to get to this point," Figler said after the group finished the three-hour job on a recent Saturday. "I’m grateful for all the hands that showed up today."

The volunteers were a mix of homeowners who are planning to have a solar raiser at their home or who are thinking about having one done, or have already had an installation by members and were there to return the favor.

"That’s the sort of social contract we have," said Milford resident Scott Lawrence, referring to the reciprocation among members. "It’s not a written deal, and we’ve never had anybody resist that idea."

One of the people helping Figler was Adam Jacobs, a Hollis resident who had scheduled a solar raiser to install 34 panels on the roof of his Crestwood Road home the following Saturday.

During the solar raiser at Jacobs’ house, Merrimack resident Mark Duckworth was one of the 15 volunteers helping out. It was the first solar raiser for Duckworth, who said he’s researching to determine if it makes sense to have an installation done at his home.

"I wanted to learn something, see how it’s done," he said.

Although roof panel systems are generally the most cost effective, HAREI also does ground-mounted installations.

According to the organization, homeowners who want to install panels should plan to stay in their home for at least five years. Two to four months of lead time, depending on their project’s complexity and selected technology, is usually required.

Prior to a solar raiser, homeowners determine how much they’re paying for electricity and then decide how large a system they want. They must secure the necessary permits and approvals to install the panels and connect to the electric grid.

After their project is completed, they can obtain a federal income tax credit of 30 percent of the total installation cost and a state rebate, usually in the amount of $2,500.

"Some of the time, when you’re not using all the power that your panels are producing, it’s going back out into the electrical grid," Lawrence said, adding that homeowners earn credits by doing so.

According to Lawrence, one of the organization’s leaders, HAREI members typically pay only 50 to 60 percent of what a company-installed system would cost them.

Lawrence, who paid roughly $23,000 for his ground-mounted system, estimates he would have paid $40,000 for a commercial installation.

With the sun powering his home, he pays roughly $13, a fixed charge on his electric bill, monthly to Eversource.

Prior to the installation of his panels, Figler mounted the necessary equipment, including rails, wiring and micro-inverters, to his roof.

Before his solar raiser, he said he was paying about $2,000 annually on electricity. He estimates he will recoup the cost of his installation after 4 1/2 years of electricity cost savings.

To date, HAREI members, who display a friendly camaraderie while working together, have done about 20 solar raisers.

They "want to do something personally about climate change and clean power generation," Lawrence said. "We’re all enjoying the fact that we’re taking more carbon out of the world, we’re saving money, we’re all into this as being the right thing (to do). For a lot of people, it’s a really good investment."

Here comes the sun

When Rob Figler arranged to have 30 solar panels installed on his Wiggin Road home in Bedford, he didn’t hire an installation company.

Instead, he turned to the members of a local nonprofit organization that promotes renewable energy to help him do the work for free.

Figler is a member of the Hillsborough County Area Renewable Energy Initiative – known as HAREI, for short – which is committed to helping residents and businesses implement more efficient and sustainable energy practices.

Members of the organization, which focuses primarily on solar photovoltaic technologies for producing clean, renewable energy from the sun, enjoy sizable savings on solar panel installation projects through group orders for equipment and by relying on each other for free help.

Fourteen HAREI volunteers helped Figler install the panels on his roof during an event the organization calls a "solar raiser" – a group effort in the style of an old-fashioned barn raising.

Volunteers on the ground carried panels, loaded them on a lift and raised them to volunteers standing on scaffolding. The volunteers there grabbed the panels off the lift and handed them up to Figler and several others on the roof.

It was "a lot of work to get to this point," Figler said after the group finished the three-hour job on a recent Saturday. "I’m grateful for all the hands that showed up today."

The volunteers were a mix of homeowners who are planning to have a solar raiser at their home or who are thinking about having one done, or have already had an installation by members and were there to return the favor.

"That’s the sort of social contract we have," said Milford resident Scott Lawrence, referring to the reciprocation among members. "It’s not a written deal, and we’ve never had anybody resist that idea."

One of the people helping Figler was Adam Jacobs, a Hollis resident who had scheduled a solar raiser to install 34 panels on the roof of his Crestwood Road home the following Saturday.

During the solar raiser at Jacobs’ house, Merrimack resident Mark Duckworth was one of the 15 volunteers helping out. It was the first solar raiser for Duckworth, who said he’s researching to determine if it makes sense to have an installation done at his home.

"I wanted to learn something, see how it’s done," he said.

Although roof panel systems are generally the most cost effective, HAREI also does ground-mounted installations.

According to the organization, homeowners who want to install panels should plan to stay in their home for at least five years. Two to four months of lead time, depending on their project’s complexity and selected technology, is usually required.

Prior to a solar raiser, homeowners determine how much they’re paying for electricity and then decide how large a system they want. They must secure the necessary permits and approvals to install the panels and connect to the electric grid.

After their project is completed, they can obtain a federal income tax credit of 30 percent of the total installation cost and a state rebate, usually in the amount of $2,500.

"Some of the time, when you’re not using all the power that your panels are producing, it’s going back out into the electrical grid," Lawrence said, adding that homeowners earn credits by doing so.

According to Lawrence, one of the organization’s leaders, HAREI members typically pay only 50 to 60 percent of what a company-installed system would cost them.

Lawrence, who paid roughly $23,000 for his ground-mounted system, estimates he would have paid $40,000 for a commercial installation.

With the sun powering his home, he pays roughly $13, a fixed charge on his electric bill, monthly to Eversource.

Prior to the installation of his panels, Figler mounted the necessary equipment, including rails, wiring and micro-inverters, to his roof.

Before his solar raiser, he said he was paying about $2,000 annually on electricity. He estimates he will recoup the cost of his installation after 4 1/2 years of electricity cost savings.

To date, HAREI members, who display a friendly camaraderie while working together, have done about 20 solar raisers.

They "want to do something personally about climate change and clean power generation," Lawrence said. "We’re all enjoying the fact that we’re taking more carbon out of the world, we’re saving money, we’re all into this as being the right thing (to do). For a lot of people, it’s a really good investment."