Newton Goes Solar – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 Many of our common questions can be answered here. Click on the question to link to the answer.

 

  1. Who is Green Newton and what is Newton Goes Solar?

  2. Do I have to be a Newton resident to be part of this program?

  3. Is this program for residences or businesses?

  4. What can I do to reduce my electricity consumption?

  5. Why go solar?

  6. Why is this a good time to go solar?

  7. How did Green Newton select its partner solar suppliers for the Newton Goes Solar program

  8. What solar companies did Green Newton select for the Newton Goes Solar program?

  9. What is the difference between a PPA system and a Customer Owned system?

  10. When would a PPA be preferred over a Customer Owned system?

  11. When would a Customer Owned system be preferred over a PPA?

  12. What are all the financial incentives available for Customer Owned systems?

  13. How do I actually sell my SRECs?

  14. Where can I get more information on the state SREC program?

  15. What will happen when the SREC-II program ends for new solar system owners?

  16. Why is the state changing the SREC program?

  17. How can I estimate what my SRECs will be worth over the next 10 years?

  18. What would happen to my SRECs if I sold my house within the first 10 years of operation?

  19. Is there a website where all the solar suppliers are rated, where I can read comments about them?

  20. What is Net Metering and how does it help the solar customer?

  21. Is solar really viable in New England?

  22. Will my property value go up with a Customer Owned system?

  23. Will my property value go up with a PPA system?

  24. Does Sunlight Solar offer financing for the Customer Owned system?

  25. Do I need good credit?

  26. Are there any loan programs for low to moderate income homeowners?

  27. Could get a loan for the substantial tax credits to cover the time between when I purchase the system and when I will actually receive my tax refunds?

  28. What if my roof is not in good shape now?

  29. How much would I pay for electricity that I produce through the PPA program?

  30. What equipment is typically provided with a PPA installation?

  31. What happens at the end of the 20-year PPA contract?

  32. What happens if I sell my house?

  33. What is the pricing and equipment provided for Customer Owned systems?

  34. What do the solar panels look like?

  35. Why does Sunlight Solar use Enphase MicroInverters, and Solar Five use Solar Edge Power Optimizers and a Central Inverter?

  36. What is a power production guarantee and do the Newton Goes Solar suppliers offer it?

  37. What if I want to go off-grid and install a battery backup system?

  38. I have some shade. Can I still participate?

  39. Is there a way to evaluate the solar potential for of my home before I contact one of the suppliers?

  40. What if I live in a rental property or if I own a property that I rent out to others?

  41. What if I live in a condo that I own?

  42. Do I need to contact my homeowner’s insurance company if I add solar?

  43. What regular maintenance is required for a solar system?

  44. Will my solar panels produce electricity during a power outage?

  45. Will cold weather affect the operation of a solar system?

  46. Will I still generate electricity on a cloudy day?

  47. Will I still generate electricity when it snows?

  48. Why choose a Newton Goes Solar supplier rather than another supplier of solar systems?

  49. Does Green Newton earn anything from this program?

  50. If I am interested in the program, how do I get started?

  51. When do I need to sign a contract in order to get the Newton Goes Solar pricing and terms?

  52. What happens after I give Green Newton my contact information and I agree to have one of the solar suppliers contact me?

  53. What would make my roof not suitable to for solar PV?

  54. How long would it take to get a solar PV system installed and inspected?

 

READY TO GO SOLAR?

Sign up for a free solar assessment

HERE

or call the Newton Goes Solar hotline at

617-614-7892



 

  1. Who is Green Newton and what is Newton Goes Solar?

    Green Newton is a non-profit volunteer-run organization based in Newton, MA that was founded in 1990. We pride ourselves at being leaders in creating sustainable solutions to environmental problems facing our city, surrounding cities, and the world. We often work on projects in collaboration with the City of Newton, local government, other non-profit organizations, and local schools. Our members are primarily people who live in or work in Newton and neighboring communities. We invite all members of the community to get involved. Please see our Join or Renew page at www.greennewton.org. Newton Goes Solar is an initiative that was created by Green Newton to educate the community on the benefits of rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, and to increase the number of homes in our community with solar PV systems by partnering with solar suppliers to offer attractive options for going solar.  [Back]

  2. Do I have to be a Newton resident to be part of this program?

    No, this program is open to residents of the City of Newton and all surrounding communities.  [Back]

  3. Is this program for residences or businesses?

    This program is primarily for residences. If you have a business and are interested in solar, our partner solar suppliers will be happy to talk to you, but the terms of your solar agreement will need to be customized for your business installation. [Back]

  4. What can I do to reduce my electricity consumption?

    You should examine your electricity consumption and take steps to reduce it. This will allow you to address a larger percentage of your electricity consumption with solar energy, or even allow you to use a smaller solar system. A great place to start is to schedule a free home energy assessment. You will receive free LED bulbs, programmable thermostats, low flow shower heads, smart power strips, as well as energy savings tips and advice. There are also opportunities to save on insulation and weatherization services through MassSave. We recommend scheduling your free assessment through the Newton Energy Savers program at www.newtonsaves.com. Our recommended assessment partner is Able Home Performance, but you can get this done for free by any participating MassSave partner. You can also call Able directly at (781) 436-2639 to schedule your assessment. This program is absolutely free to you, because it is paid for by fees that you pay in every electricity and gas bill.  [Back]

  5. Why go solar?

    Solar is a clean, renewable source of energy that promotes job growth, energy independence, and lowers greenhouse gas emissions by replacing electricity generated by fossil fuels. It is reliable, noiseless, and safe. For most systems, residential solar photovoltaic (PV) systems will produce electricity at substantially less cost than electricity purchased from a utility over the lifetime of the equipment (25+ years). Converting to solar energy is the single biggest step that a homeowner can take to reduce his or her carbon footprint. Over the life of a residential solar system, hundreds of thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide emissions are eliminated; the equivalent of planting thousands of trees or reducing the consumption of thousands of gallons of gasoline. [Back]

  6. Why is this a good time to go solar?

    Installing solar electricity for your home has never been more cost-effective than it is today. The cost of electricity is rising and the efficiency of solar panels continues to improve This year, 2017, is a pivotal year for residential solar installations in MA because one of the major financial incentives for system owners, the MA SREC program, is being phased out, and is expected to be closed for new solar system purchasers near the end of 2017 (see FAQ on the MA SREC program below).  [Back]

  7. How did Green Newton select its partner solar suppliers for the Newton Goes Solar program?

    Through a careful selection process, Green Newton volunteers investigated solar suppliers who have an excellent record of providing solar solutions to their customers, and have experience in working with community-wide solar campaigns. We solicited actual quotations from multiple suppliers on a real house that is a solar candidate in order to assess the quality, readability, and accuracy of the quotations. Our goal was to select two suppliers serving different needs in the residential solar market. We looked for suppliers that understand the business and the needs of solar customers. We chose suppliers that can offer outstanding support and warranties. We eliminated suppliers that did not use their own personnel for installation.

    We compared pricing among suppliers and selected suppliers who were able to offer comprehensive solar solutions to the Green Newton community at a discount to general market pricing. We understand that the solar business is highly competitive and there are many suppliers to choose from. This makes it difficult to make comparisons from one supplier to another. We feel that our selected partner solar suppliers will provide outstanding solar solutions, great value, tremendous service, and may provide features and benefits that other suppliers do not offer. We also chose suppliers that have the capacity to install solar systems within a reasonable timeframe to insure that everyone who signs a contract within the signup period will be installed and operational prior to the expiration of the current SREC program (see FAQ on the MA SREC program below).   [Back]

  8. What solar companies did Green Newton select for the Newton Goes Solar program?

    In order to meet the needs of as many homeowners as possible, we have chosen two solar suppliers. The suppliers operate in different segments of the solar market and are not direct competitors. Each offers a unique solution. For Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), our solar partner is Solar Five

    . For Customer Owned systems, our supplier is Sunlight Solar. In order to get all the benefits of this program, please do not contact these suppliers directly. You must be referred to our suppliers by Green Newton in order to receive the pricing and terms negotiated as part of the Newton Goes Solar program.  [Back]

  9. What is the difference between a PPA system and a Customer Owned system?

    A Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) allows a solar customer to enter into an agreement whereby a solar system is installed on the roof at zero cost in exchange for reduced electricity costs (up to 25%) for the period of the agreement (usually 20 years). The system is owned by the PPA solar company, and all electricity produced by the system is sold to the solar customer at a contract price which is discounted from utility pricing. The remaining electricity that is not produced by the PPA system is billed to the customer by the electric utility at normal rates. The PPA solar company is the system owner and receives all tax credits and SRECs, which allows them to offer the system at zero cost. The PPA solar company is also responsible for maintenance and repairs, as their revenue model depends on the system providing good service.

    A Customer Owned system allows the customer to have a solar system installed on the roof, possibly with no money down (depending on how it is financed). The customer receives all available federal and state tax credits and SRECs (see FAQ on financial incentives below) to reduce the overall cost of ownership. Customers also benefit by using all the electricity produced by the solar system to significantly reduce or possibly eliminate their electric utility bill. The state also has an income based program that will pay 20% to 30% of the system cost if you qualify (see FAQ on loan programs below). The Customer Owned system provider is responsible for maintenance and repairs for the term of their warranty (20 years for Sunlight Solar).

    Both options benefit the environment, save money, and improve predictability for future electricity costs.  [Back]

  10. When would a PPA be preferred over a Customer Owned system?

    A PPA system may be attractive to customers who want immediate savings on their electricity without taking on any debt, or customers who have an income tax liability so low that the solar tax credits could not be used for many years. For some, the simplicity of getting a PPA system installed at zero cost with no responsibility for financing or system maintenance is attractive.[Back]

  11. When would a Customer Owned system be preferred over a PPA?

    The Customer Owned system will provide a greater reduction in electricity costs with the possibility of eliminating 100% of the electric utility bill. Customers who want to take advantage of all available federal and state tax credits and SREC income incentives (see FAQ on financial incentives below) may prefer this option. Even if your income tax liability is low, through the Mass Solar Loan program, qualifying homeowners will offset their lack of tax liability by having the state pay for 20% to 30% of the cost of the system (see FAQ on loan programs for low to moderate income homeowners below). Financing plans are available that allow the Customer Owned system to be installed with no money down.  The Customer Owned system provider is responsible for maintenance and repairs for the term of their warranty (20 years for Sunlight Solar). 

     [Back]

  12. What are all the financial incentives available for Customer Owned systems?

    Federal Tax Incentive

    • For Customer Owned systems, 30% of the system cost can be taken as a credit against your federal income taxes for the year you install your system. If your tax credit exceeds your tax liability in the year that you install the system, you can carry forward unused credits for a limited period of time.   Any additional work such as tree removal, roof replacement, or electrical system upgrades that are done as part of the solar installation will usually qualify for the 30% tax credit (please consult a tax professional about your personal situation) . 

    State Incentives

    • For Customer Owned systems, 15% of the system cost can be taken as a MA state tax credit, up to a maximum of $1,000.

    • Purchases of residential solar systems are exempt from MA state sales tax.

    • Under MA law, the installation of a solar PV system is exempt from property tax increases for the first 20 years of use. Your property taxes can go up for other reasons, but they cannot be raised due to the addition of a solar PV system for the first 20 years of ownership.

    • If you qualify based on your income, the state will pay for 20% to 30% of the system cost through the Mass Solar Loan program (see FAQ on loan programs for low to moderate income homeowners below).

    The MA SREC System

    • Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) are state-provided financial incentives available to owners of solar PV systems. For the first ten years that your solar PV system is in operation, for every 1,250 kilowatt- hours (kWh) you produce, you create one solar renewable energy certificate (SREC). The state has set minimums percentages for all electricity providers that they have to generate from solar, or they are subject to fines. This creates a market for the SRECs that you generate, because electricity providers need to buy them to satisfy state requirements. You get credit for every kWh generated by your system, even though you may use some or all of it. The current program is called SREC-II. SRECs can be sold through an SREC aggregator to Massachusetts electricity providers.  [Back]

  13. How do I actually sell my SRECs?

    SRECs are sold in an auction-style marketplace by companies known as “SREC aggregators”. Most charge a commission of 5% to 7% for each SREC sold. You may choose to work with any SREC aggregator. [Back]

  14. Where can I get more information on the state SREC program?

    Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) manages the SREC program, and you can find information HERE.  [Back]

  15. What will happen when the SREC-II program ends for new solar system owners?

    The state has proposed a new incentive program for solar system purchasers called the SMART program, or Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target program. Since the new system has not been fully approved yet, we don’t have the final details. However, we know that it will be a tariff-based system, and will be tied to the cost of electricity. We also know that the new system will offer less valuable financial incentives to solar system purchasers as compared to the current SREC-II program. [Back]

  16. Why is the state changing the SREC program?

    Like many emerging technologies, the solar industry needs government support to help make it financially attractive, to create jobs, and to stimulate growth. As the industry matures, it needs different types and different levels of support. The state has determined that the SREC program is too costly to run and the incentives provided are not properly aligned with the interests of solar purchasers, solar companies, utilities, and non-solar utility customers.  [Back]

  17. How can I estimate what my SRECs will be worth over the next 10 years?

    Nobody can tell you precisely what SRECs will be worth in the future. However, the state has set up the program to insure that there will be enough demand for SRECs to insure a liquid market. The price for SRECs is expected to decrease over time. A reasonable estimate of the average selling price over the next 10 years is around $200 per SREC, although the current price is close to $280. For the latest data on SREC pricing, click HERE.  [Back]

  18. What would happen to my SRECs if I sold my house with in the first 10 years of operation?

    Some aggregators offer to buy SRECs in advance of actually generating them at a fixed price, which is far less than the current market price. If you sell your property before the first 10 years has passed, you can “presell” your SRECs in advance. Or you can negotiate with the buyer as to whether the future SREC payments will go to you or to the buyer.  [Back]

  19. Is there a website where all the solar suppliers are rated, where I can read comments about them?

    Yes, you can go to www.solarreviews.com to read about users’ ratings of many different solar suppliers, and they have a star rating system. Keep in mind that there are ratings and comments here for solar companies all across the US, and many of them do not do business in our area.  [Back]

  20. What is net metering and how does it help the solar customer?

    Currently, residential solar systems in Massachusetts are allowed to use net metering with no capacity limits. Net metering means that you get credit for every kWh of electricity produced by your solar system, regardless of whether you use that electricity now or at some point in the future. For example, in the summer months, you will typically produce more electricity in a month than you consume, but the excess electricity that you did not use gets put back on the electrical grid and you get full credit for that electricity when you need to use it later, like in the winter months. Think of it like rollover minutes on a phone plan; they can be carried forward to the next month. You can use the electricity either now or later, and you will get credit for it either way. Net metering is done by changing the utility electric meter on your home to a special type of meter (a net meter) that can run forwards and backwards. When you are using more electricity than you are producing, the meter runs forwards, and when you are producing more electricity than you are using, the meter runs backwards. Your utility bill is based on the net meter reading each month, and for months where you produce more electricity than you use, the net meter reading for the month will be negative, and you will get a credit on your bill for the excess electricity that you put back onto the grid. This credit can be used in later months when you use more electricity than you produce. For both PPA and Customer Owned systems, you will get a net meter installed, and you will be able to take full advantage of all the electricity that you produce, regardless of how much of it is used in a given month.  [Back]

  21. Is solar really viable in New England?

    Absolutely! Our available sun power in New England is about 80% of the sunniest parts of the southwestern US and is much higher than anywhere in Germany, one of the leading solar countries in the world. We also have relatively high electricity rates, which makes solar PV systems more economically attractive. Economic viability for solar is greatly enhanced by financial incentives for solar system owners, and Massachusetts is one of the most “solar-friendly” states because of our progressive state solar policies. The state incentives are a combination of state tax credits and 10-year earned credits called SRECs. For Customer Owned systems, the expected breakeven time is generally between 5 – 8 years on the purchase cost, but will vary depending on roof orientation, shading,and other factors. Homes with less sun or more shading have longer payback periods, but solar can still be a great investment in these situations. Due to improvements in solar panel efficiency, some homes that were previously not good candidates for solar installations may now be economically viable. Solar panels can be effective on most roofs, regardless of orientation. For PPA systems, the federal and state financial incentives go to the PPA system owner, and allow them to offer you an immediate reduction in your electricity costs as well as a zero cost system.  [Back]

  22. Will my property value go up with a Customer Owned system?

    Imagine two identical homes next to one another, one with an installed solar system and one without it. It is reasonable to expect that the house with the Customer Owned solar system would be worth more because the owner would pay much lower electric bills. A Lawrence Berkeley National Lab study (using data from real estate sales in CA and in 7 other states including MA) concluded in 2015 that the premium paid for homes with installed solar PV systems was around $3 to $4 per installed watt. For a typical home with a 7kW system, this would represent an increase in value of around $21,000 to $28,000. You can access the full study HERE.  [Back]

  23. Will my property value go up with a PPA system?

    For PPA systems, you do not spend any money to acquire your solar system, so it is unclear whether the value of the property would increase.  [Back]

  24. Does Sunlight Solar offer financing for the Customer Owned system?

    Yes. Sunlight Solar has several financing options available to purchasers with good credit. There is an option to finance with no money down. However, system purchasers may find that they can finance at lower rates by using a home equity line of credit, if available. Also, there is a discount for cash purchases (not financed through Sunlight Solar).  [Back]

  25. Do I need good credit?

    You do not need perfect credit. Our PPA system partner will run a credit check to make sure you are able to pay your reduced cost electric bill. Our Customer Owned system partner will run a credit check if you are financing the system through them.  [Back]

  26. Are there any loan programs for low to moderate income homeowners?

    Yes. Mass Solar Loan offers a loan program through a number of regional banks that offer a discounted interest rate for solar loans. They also have a provision for a principal reduction for borrowers with incomes below stated thresholds. This means that if you qualify based on income, you can actually receive an additional 20% or 30% discount on the purchase price of the system through this program. A family of 4 would be eligible for a 20% reduction of loan principal if the household income was below $127,408, and would be eligible for a 30% reduction of loan principal if the household income was below $84,939. For more information, see the Mass Solar Loan website.   [Back]

  27. Could get a loan for the substantial tax credits to cover the time between when I purchase the system and when I will actually receive my tax refunds?

    Yes. Sunlight Solar has a 0% tax loan program to cover the 30% federal and $1,000 (maximum) state tax credits. If you choose to take advantage of this loan, you will not have to pay anything until well after your federal and state tax refunds are received, and you will pay no interest as long as the loan is paid off before the 0% interest rate period expires.  [Back]

  28. What if my roof is not in good shape now?

    If your roof is in need of repair or replacement, you should correct that situation before installation of solar panels. Any roof work that is done as part of a purchased solar system is eligible for the 30% federal tax credit. If roof work is needed later, you will have to pay for some or all of the solar panels to be removed, stored, and replaced after the roof work is completed. If this is a potential issue, please check with our solar partners about the expected cost of these services.  [Back]

  29. How much would I pay for electricity that I produce through the PPA program?

    For competitive reasons our PPA solar partner, Solar Five, has asked us not to publish the PPA electricity price on our website, but we can discuss the pricing if you speak with one of our solar coaches, available by calling the Newton Goes Solar hotline at 617-614-7892. The electricity pricing can save you up to 25% of utility rates on all the electricity that you produce over the life of the PPA agreement(20years). The  pricing is based on an initial fixed price per kWh, and has a fixed inflation adder for each year that you own the system.  [Back]

  30. What equipment is typically provided with a PPA installation?

    The supplier reserves the right to modify the equipment if needed for your installation. These are the standard components that will normally be supplied:

    • High Efficiency all-black CertainTeed 290 watt panels and SolarEdge optimizers (one per panel)

    • SolarEdge central inverter

    • Solar revenue meter

    • Remote real-time monitoring system

    • CertainTeed panels have a 25 year production guarantee

    • SolarEdge optimizers and inverters have a manufacturer’s warranty of 20 years

    • All workmanship is guaranteed for the life of the system, up to 30 years

    • Systems include any required service at no charge for the PPA term of 20 years (or more if extended)  [Back]

  31. What happens at the end of the 20-year PPA contract?

    At the end of the agreement term, you can either extend your agreement, have Solar Five remove the system at their cost, or buy the system at fair market value.  [Back]

  32. What happens if I sell my house?

    If selling a house with a PPA system prior to the expiration of the contract, if the buyer is interested in the benefits of clean, low cost electricity, and they are qualified by Solar Five, you can transfer the PPA contract to them. If they do not want to retain the system, you can pay Solar Five the depreciated value of the system and they will remove the system. If selling a house with a Customer Owned system, the installed solar system is part of the property, adding value to the home due to its ability to provide free electricity to the new owner.

      [Back]

  33. What is the pricing and equipment provided for Customer Owned systems?

    Our Customer Owned system partner, Sunlight Solar, offers two options; basic and high efficiency panels. These are configured to be complete turn-key systems and offer excellent equipment quality, value, and warranty, and are suitable for full sun or partially shaded roofs as well as roofs with multiple array orientations.  For competitive reasons, the company has asked us not to publish the system pricing on our website, but we can discuss the pricing if you speak with one of our solar coaches, available by calling the Newton Goes Solar hotline at 617-614-7892.  The supplier reserves the right to modify the equipment if needed for your installation.

    • Basic System includes top quality dark blue Hanwha Q-CELLS 290 watt panels and Enphase IQ6 MicroInverters (one per panel)

    •  Upgrade available to top quality all-black high-efficiency LG Neon 320 watt panels or black on white high-efficiency LG Neon 320 watt panels. 

    • Cell modem based solar reporting system

    • Remote real-time monitoring system

    • Hanwha Q-Cells have a 25 year production guarantee

    • LG-Solar panels have a 25 year production guarantee

    • Enphase MicroInverters have a manufacturer’s warranty of 25 years

    • All workmanship is guaranteed by a 10-year warranty including any required service at no charge

    • Standard pricing includes everything from system design and structural roof analysis, to permitting, installation, warranty, and monitoring. Sunlight Solar can provide a variety of services (at extra cost) should they be required, such as additional structural support for the roof, and electrical upgrades. Snow Guards and Critter Guards are available for a particular roof situation.

    If you have any questions regarding prices or options, please contact a solar coach by calling the Newton Goes Solar hotline at 617-614-7892 or email [email protected].  [Back]

  34. What do the solar panels look like?

    These photographs give you an idea of the look of the dark blue panels used by Sunlight Solar, the black panels used by Sunlight Solar, and the black panels used by Solar Five. You can ask your Green Newton solar coach, or your solar consultant for addresses of homes nearby that have these panels installed, if you would like to see exactly what they look like installed on a roof.  [Back]

    Hanwha Q-CELLS (dark blue) panels (Sunlight Solar)

    LG Neon All-Black panels (Sunlight Solar)

    CertainTeed All-Black panels (Solar Five)

  35. Why does Sunlight Solar use Enphase MicroInverters, and Solar Five use Solar Edge Power Optimizers and a Central Inverter?

    MicroInverters and the combination of Power Optimizers and a Central Inverter accomplish the same thing; they both convert the DC produced by the solar panels to AC that can be used in your house. They contain electronics which allow you to capture the maximum amount of electricity produced from all your solar panels. They also enable all of your solar panels to be monitored remotely so problems can be spotted easily. Both solutions are popular and both operate at high efficiency. Most experts are split on which type of system is better. Many solar companies standardize on one type, although some may offer you a choice. There are slight differences in equipment, warranties, and costs for the two system types. One type is not better than the other. You can ask your solar consultant why they have chosen the equipment that they use.  [Back]

  36. What is a power production guarantee and do the Newton Goes Solar suppliers offer it?

    A power production guarantee is a statement written into the contract that specifies the minimum solar production (in kWh) expected per year for your solar system. The number will decrease slightly each year because solar panels become slightly less efficient as they age. If your solar production falls short of the amount specified in the production guarantee, the supplier will reimburse you for the production shortfall, at the rate per kWh that is written into the contract. For Customer Owned systems, Sunlight Solar offers a 10 year power production guarantee. Power production guarantees are not generally used with PPA systems because the PPA system provider is already motivated by the nature of the agreement to insure that the panels produce as much electricity as possible.  [Back]

  37. What if I want to go off-grid and install a battery backup system?

    Our solar partners are not offering off-grid battery backup systems as part of this program. Since we are in a developed urban area, we have a very reliable electric grid, and moving off-grid is not generally needed in Newton and surrounding communities.  [Back]

  38. I have some shade. Can I still participate?

    Usually you can. It depends on how much shade you have and much shade falls on the roof areas that will have solar panels. Even with shading, our suppliers are now offering very efficient panels that can make your project viable even if it was not financially attractive a few years ago. In some cases, you may consider thinning branches or removing some trees to allow the solar panels to operate more efficiently. Your solar consultant can discuss this with you. If you are doing tree work as part of a Customer Owned system, you will be able to take the 30% federal tax credit on the cost of the tree work.  [Back]

  39. Is there a way to evaluate the solar potential for of my home before I contact one of the suppliers?

    Google Project Sunroof  can provide a quick evaluation of the available square area of your roof and the approximate number of hours of useable sunlight per year. You can put in your address and compare your house to other houses nearby. Remember that this is just a rough assessment, and you should request a free site visit from one of our suppliers to get a more thorough determination of your home’s solar potential.  [Back]

  40. What if I live in a rental property or if I own a property that I rent out to others?

    Renters cannot authorize installation of a solar system; only the property owner can. Owners of rental property can authorize installation of a solar system. You should explain your situation to the solar consultant so they can provide the best possible solution. [Back]

  41. What if I live in a condo that I own?

    You can download the DOER Solar Guide to Condos which provides in-depth advice about how condo owners can go solar, including how to deal with condo-associations.  [Back]

  42. Do I need to contact my homeowner’s insurance company if I add solar?

    If you are getting solar through a PPA system, you do not own the system, so the insurance is maintained by the solar company and you do not need to contact your homeowner’s insurance company. If you choose a Customer Owned system, it becomes part of the structure of the home, so you should inform your homeowner’s insurance company. In some cases, they may add a small fee to cover the solar system, but most likely they will not. The homeowner’s insurance would be liable if, for instance, a tree fell on your roof and smashed some of the panels. [Back]

  43. What regular maintenance is required for a solar system?

    Your solar system should be mostly maintenance free over its 25+ year life. Rain and snow will generally keep the panels clean and free of debris. Removing snow is not recommended since you risk damaging the panels. Since they are made of smooth tempered glass, snow slides off the panels very quickly as the sunlight begins to warm the panels, long before the snow slides of the rest of your roof.  [Back]

  44. Will my solar panels produce electricity during a power outage?

    No. The solar system is wired into your electrical panel, and for safety reasons, is designed to automatically disconnect in the event of a power outage. When grid power is restored, the system will automatically reconnect and synchronize to the grid and your solar system will come back on.  [Back]

  45. Will cold weather affect the operation of a solar system?

    Colder operating temperatures are actually better for solar PV. Although it may seem that desert conditions would be ideal for solar PV, the intense heat decreases the efficiency of the solar panels. Cooler temperatures allow the system to operate at higher efficiency.  [Back]

  46. Will I still generate electricity on a cloudy day?

    The electricity production will be reduced on cloudy days, but the system will still generate some electricity because there will still be some sunlight falling on the panels. On a light overcast day, panels might produce about half as much as under full sun.  [Back]

  47. Will I still generate electricity on a cloudy day?

    When it snows, the snow may initially cover most of the surface of the solar panels and greatly reduce the production of your system. However, if the snow is light, some sunlight will still be able to penetrate through to the modules, warming them and melting the layer of snow that is on them. Snow typically clears from your solar panels much sooner than other parts of the roof, allowing production to return to normal. [Back]

  48. Why choose a Newton Goes Solar supplier rather than another supplier of solar systems?

    You are encouraged to get bids from, and use any other solar system supplier. You will still get the same federal and state financial incentives if purchasing a system. However there are some very good reasons to use our partner suppliers:

    • These solar system suppliers have been “vetted” by Green Newton, and we have done the work to insure that our partner suppliers are reputable and can provide a complete top-quality system with excellent warranties, and will be able to provide excellent service should you require it.

    • For Customer Owned systems, we have negotiated discount rates that are based on the size of your system in kWh.  [Back]

  49. Does Green Newton earn anything from this program?

    Green Newton will receive a referral fee for each system installed by our solar partners through this program. The referral fees will be used by Green Newton to fund other programs that bring environmental benefits to our city and our community.  [Back]

  50. If I am interested in the program, how do I get started?

    You can get started in any one of these three ways:

    • Click HERE to enter your contact information and a Green Newton solar coach or a solar supplier will contact you.

    • Attend a public educational meeting where you can provide your contact information. 

    • Check the Green Newton website for announcements about upcoming public meetings.

    • Call the Newton Goes Solar hotline at 617-614-7892 and when prompted, leave your contact information, and tell us if you just want a callback from a solar coach, or if you want us to submit your contact information to one or both of our solar suppliers for a free solar assessment.

    Once you indicate that you want a free solar assessment, we will forward your contact information to the supplier or suppliers of your choice and they will contact you, usually within 48 hours, to schedule your solar assessment.  [Back]

  51. When do I need to sign a contract in order to get the Newton Goes Solar pricing and terms?

    Contracts need to be signed by October 15, 2017 in order to get the system pricing and terms offered by our partner solar suppliers. This insures that all installations will be operational before the SREC-II program ends around the end of 2017.  [Back]

  52. What happens after I give Green Newton my contact information and I agree to have one of the solar suppliers contact me?

    You will be contacted by Sunlight Solar or Solar Five, whichever you choose (or both if you choose them both), usually within one or two business days. During a brief phone call, they will ask about how much electricity you use, ask about the construction and age of your roof, look at your property from satellite images, and will provide initial feedback and discuss your home’s solar suitability. If it looks like your home has good solar potential and you are interested in proceeding, they will schedule an initial visit at your home with a solar consultant from the company (not from Green Newton). At your visit, the solar consultant will answer all your questions, and if your home is suitable for a solar installation, will present a potential design proposal. After that, you can work with your solar consultant to optimize your system design, and if it is a Customer Owned system, discuss financing options. After you feel that you have a satisfactory proposal, the solar consultant will ask you to sign a contract. For a PPA system, no payment will be required. For a Customer Owned System, no deposit is required if you are financing through Sunlight Solar, but a 10% deposit will be payable at signing of the contract for cash purchases. This deposit is fully refundable if after the structural and electrical inspection, the customer chooses to cancel the contract based on additional costs that are discovered.  [Back]

  53. What would make my roof not suitable to for solar PV?

    Suitability depends on your available clear roof area (free of chimneys, vent pipes, etc.), orientation, shading, and condition of your roof. If you don’t have enough area and sun to illuminate your panels for most of the day, you may not be able to produce enough electricity to cover a large percent of your electricity requirements. At that point, the cost of installing the solar system may make less economic sense.  [Back]

  54. How long would it take to get a solar PV system installed and inspected?

    From the time you sign a contract, it can take 2 to 4 months until the system is installed and inspected. Your solar consultant can give you more details on how much time it should take.  [Back]

READY TO GO SOLAR?

Sign up for
a free solar assessment at

HERE

or call the Newton Goes Solar hotline at

617-614-7892