Boston area solar panel expert extols virtues of green living

Boston area solar panel expert extols virtues of green living

Dan Leary, who served seven years on active duty worldwide as a captain and company commander with the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps, loves his current job.

"We help clients save money and help the environment at the same time," Leary says. "When Nexamp's clients smile, I smile, and they smile a lot thanks to my smart, hard-working team and our dedication to exceptional service."

What's the benefit to using solar panels?

"Solar panels - also known as photovoltaic (PV) modules - harness the sun's light to produce energy in the form of electricity. The eco-friendly solar systems we install typically generate 50 percent or more of a home's electricity needs.

"Also, you can sell extra power back to the utility company in most states, including most of Massachusetts (called net metering). Here, it can take three to 12 years for a system to pay for itself. The Appraisal Institute says with every $1,000 one saves annually with renewable energy, the home value increases $20,000."

How does the installation process work?

"One of Nexamp's trained technicians will visit your home, examine site conditions and historical weather data, and measure solar access. Productive PV systems require access to the south with no shading.

"Good sites for roof-mounted panels include at least 300 continuous square feet of open roof space that receives six or more unobstructed shade-free hours of sun each day. Open ground with little to no shading can also be adequate for a ground-mounted system.

"Installation of a solar PV system typically takes two to four days, and might cost $25,000 before rebates and incentives."

How durable are solar panels?

"Solar PV modules are designed to last 30 years in adverse conditions, and although it's possible they could be damaged by hail, it would require a severe hailstorm. They don't require a lot of maintenance.

"Also, the panel surfaces act as solar thermal absorbers, melting away winter snow. Snow buildup in a typical New England winter will reduce annual production by a couple percent."

Does Massachusetts offer a tax credit or incentive for homeowners who install solar panels?

"Yes. In January 2008, Governor [Deval] Patrick's administration and the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust introduced a new initiative, Commonwealth Solar, to accelerate the number of solar electric PV projects. Residential projects are eligible for rebates for PV systems up to 5 kilowatts in size [rebates start at $2 per watt]."

Have you seen a rise in their popularity?

"Yes. The New England market is growing at about 30 percent each year, and Nexamp is growing at about 200 percent a year. More and more, solar is seen as an attractive, proven and durable technology."


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