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Bedford homeowners make use of renewable energy

BEDFORD — Rob and Tannie Grogan's new roof-top solar panels will produce enough electricity to power their home, and allow them to reap the benefits of renewable energy rebates and credits.

The solar-panel installation is part of the HAREI organization's Energy Raiser. HAREI, the Hillsborough County Area Renewable Energy Initiative, is a state-based nonprofit organization consisting of members who contribute technical, business and marketing expertise to help member-homeowners plan and install a new renewable energy system. Sister organizations exist in Plymouth, Berlin and the Seacoast and Monadnock regions.

"We're growing," said Paul Button, president of HAREI. "The model of HAREI is based on the old concept of barn-raising, neighbors helping neighbors."

The Energy Raiser at 46 Powder Hill Road began Dec. 4, when several HAREI members and local contractors helped the Grogans install 18 solar panels on sections of the roof with unshaded southern exposure. When the panels are exposed to sunlight, they will generate electricity to power the home's lights, appliances and air conditioning and supply hot water. This installation is expected to generate about 5,000 kwh of electricity per year, which is about half of the 11,000 kwh used by the average four-person household. The energy savings can range from $500 to $1,500 per year.

The materials for the Grogan project were supplied by the Trulight Energy Group and installed by Ken Dionne of KRD Builders and Alain Biron of Biron Electric.

Grogan, a HAREI member, said he is thrilled his home was chosen as the group's first project.

"The home is actually pretty ideally configured for the project, but the HAREI team came out for a site visit once I expressed interest and took a look at the home's position, solar shading, roof pitch, electrical systems and framing to determine viability, then put together a preliminary design and a financial model to help me determine whether it made sense, which it did," Grogan said. "They have also been instrumental in helping me get together all the detail for rebates and tax incentives."

The initial cost of the system, which can run from $250 to $300 per solar panel, can be offset by rebates and tax credits, amounting to about 40 to 60 percent of the initial cost of the system.

"The New Hampshire Public Utility Commission will give you a rebate based on the cost of the system at 75 cents for every watt that's produced by the system; a federal tax credit of 30 percent of the cost of the system, another $4,800; and you are generating renewable energy with the solar panels so you can sell these renewable energy credits in the market place," said member Jean Fullerton of Bedford.

Button said renewable energy credits, "are the best kept secret in the state."

And, the homeowner could save on property taxes. A Bedford homeowner who has installed a renewable energy system could see an annual property tax exemption of about $350, depending on the assessed value.

"It helps me reimburse myself for the energy system, but once that system pays for itself it's money we don't have to spend, which is great," said Grogan. "We all feel the cost of energy is going up so that will be more savings in the future."

HAREI members are working on future projects with homeowners in Londonderry and Hollis; and with Harbor Homes, a nonprofit group that provides housing and services to veterans, said member Phil Richard of Bedford.

For more information about HAREI, which is pronounced "hurray," visit

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