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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Solarize Westport Kicks Off Clean Energy Effort

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By James Lomuscio

More than 75 persons including local and state officials filled the auditorium at Earthplace tonight to kick off Solarize Westport, a clean energy project showcasing Westport being one of four Connecticut municipalities chosen to participate in a state program dubbed Solarize Connecticut. Image
Honored with the 2012 WeGreen Awards tonight were John Horkel (2nd l.) excecutive director of Earthplace, and Pippa Bell Ader, chair, Westport Home Energy Challenge. They are flanked by Westport First Selectman Gordon Joseloff (l ) and Dan Esty, commisssioner of Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

The programs’s aim is to encourage at least 50 Westporters to purchase solar photovoltaic and solar hot water systems at below market rates before Dec. 14, according to officials. The event coincided with Earthplace’s recent addition of solar panels on site.

“This is a great opportunity for the town to increase its level of sustainability, and I’m very excited to introduce the program at Earthplace, especially since they installed panels,” said Pippa Bell Ader, chairwoman of the Westport Home Energy Challenge, which has more than 650 homes in some way participating in green energy initiatives.

She and John Horkel, executive director of Earthplace since 1985 who is retiring, were honored at the event by Westport’s Green Task Force with the 2012 WeGreen Awards for their efforts to protect the environment.

Among the officials present were Daniel C. Esty, commissioner of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, state Sen. Toni Boucher, state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg and state Rep. Kim Fawcett.

The formal workshop session was preceded by tours of the newly installed Earthplace solar photovoltaic system.

“This is part of our broader effort to bring a new approach to energy in Connecticut, with a foundation consistent with cheaper, cleaner and more reliable electricity,” said Esty. “The Solarize program is another example of our commitment to innovation in not only technology, but in dealing with the public.”

Westport was one of four state towns selected to participate in the state program along with Durham, Fairfield and Portland, according to David Goldberg, director of the Rocky Hill-based Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority.

“Each time more people participate, the cost goes down,” explained Antonia Bouchard, vice president of Hartford-based Smart Power.

Glenn Cucinell, solar division manager for ENCON Solar, the installer for Westport, agreed, saying that “the more people that sign on, the lower their rates get.”

“Our goal is 50 homes,” he said.

“This has a short window in that we have to get 50 homes by Dec. 14 in order to maximize the benefit for those who sign up,” said Steinberg.

Those interested can call (203) 375-5228 or visit

Posted 09/12/12 at 01:45 AM


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