Clean Power Success Stories:
Kickstarting the Nelsons’ Solar Journey
By Amelia Gross, Junior Clean Power Fellow and Melissa Iachetta, Program Manager
Peter Nelson and his wife Sally, longtime residents of Accord, New York, recently equipped their home with solar panels with the help of New Yorkers for Clean Power’s Clean Energy Coach program. We had the chance to speak with Peter about his participation in the free service we provide and his solar installation experience.
Peter’s journey began years before meeting with NYCP. When Peter and Sally built their home eight years ago, they envisioned long-term energy efficiency upgrades. They meticulously and mindfully strategized and weaved their ultimate goals of installing solar panels, heat pumps, and an induction stove into the planning and ultimate blueprints of their house.
After years of being a part of a community solar program, Peter was finally ready to begin looking for solar installers in his area. He and his wife were ready to undertake the first leg of their clean energy home journey.
Soon into his delve, Peter found an overwhelming number of options, ranging from small local businesses to nationwide solar companies. While there wasn’t a shortage of information on the solar options, Peter noted that “as a consumer and homeowner it is a little bit intimidating”. With all the available options, Peter had a lot of questions and wasn’t always sure he’d get the best answer from a company or a vendor. Looking for “an unbiased person to step back and not be a salesperson for any one company”, Peter ended up connecting with NYCP’s Clean Energy Coach, Tom Konrad, for a free consultation.
Given Peter and Sally’s start and how much participation they had in the building of their home, it’s no surprise to say that getting solar panels installed on their roof was no different. While he considers himself an environmentalist, Peter was ultimately passionate about maintaining the aesthetics of his house. He wanted to make sure that, no matter the company they went with, he could play an active role in the design process. “We are very hands-on and we do care a lot about how the work is done and what work is done,” he said.
Tom was able to support Peter and help him kickstart his solar installation journey by providing information on how solar would work on his home and what vendors were in the area. Prior to meeting with Tom, Peter had reached out to several companies and felt unsure of some of their practices. He reflected, “One of the things that I found curious was people wanted me to pay a fee for them to come out and [conduct a] site evaluation.” Having access to Tom’s wisdom and experience was helpful for Peter to understand the solar landscape and if practices like this were standard across the industry. “It was nice to have an independent person to bounce things off of” he said.
After the Clean Energy Coaching session, continued communication with Tom, and meeting with several companies, Peter decided to go with Solar Generation. Peter noted that he had a very satisfying experience with Solar Generation, especially given how responsive they were, their free site evaluation, their respect for his aesthetic concerns, and honoring his request to be actively involved in the design process. In the end, they came up with a system that uses smaller panels so that more can fit on their roof.
The ultimate design also included all the important features Peter wanted to be incorporated, like panels only covering half of the roof and placed so that they cannot be seen from the ground. The panels have been operational for a few months now and are working great for Peter and Sally. He was enthusiastic to point out the couple’s energy usage was in the negative after only six weeks of the panels going live. They have been following along and monitoring the progress using an app and have been happily, “watching the meter go negative.”
So, what’s next in Peter and Sally’s passive house mission? Installing heat pumps! Peter is a strong believer in “not sitting as a bystander to climate change,” and he and Sally plan to continue making energy-efficiency upgrades to their home for years to come. They eventually hope to make the switch from a gas stove to an induction one. NYCP is excited to follow along on their journey and see what comes next for their home.