ANDOVER — Those with even a remote interest in generating electricity on their own property with a solar-electric (or photovoltaic) system will have a chance to learn more on May 4 at the Andover Energy Group's "Solar Saturday" event.

Promoting solar energy as way of lowering the state's carbon footprint while also saving energy and money, the group will discuss Solarize Kearsarge, a six-town volunteer project (Andover, New London, Newbury, Sutton, Warner, and Wilmot) that is offering tiered installation pricing, with costs decreasing as more neighbors sign a contract. The deadline for signatures with Granite State Solar, a Bow-based solar installer, is June 30. Granite State Solar was selected by the volunteer team after a competitive application process.

The event will take place between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the meeting room in the Town Office Building at 31 School St.

There will be directions for visiting a number of local homes with operating solar systems on their roofs or grounds, also between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. It will be an opportunity to discuss the advantages of solar electricity with several satisfied Andover property-owners.

Those attending also will be able to talk with a representative from Granite State Solar about the feasibility, pricing, financing, and timing of solar installations, and have an opportunity to schedule a free site visit to your property to determine whether solar power is right for your home. Get a free estimate for system size, costs, and potential savings.

As an added attraction, there will be several all-electric and hybrid vehicles in the parking area in front of the Town Office Building.

The Solarize Kearsarge project is part of a larger initiative led by Vital Communities, a Vermont-based nonprofit organization, to help homeowners across the Upper Valley go solar. In 2014 and 2015, 370 homes were solarized in 25 Upper Valley towns. One of those projects focused on Andover, New London, and Wilmot. Partly as a result of those efforts, Andover now has more than 60 solar-electric installations up and running.

The Solarize campaign follows on the heels of the Weatherize Kearsarge project, also coordinated by Vital Communities. That project offered residents of the same six towns an opportunity to have their homes weather-sealed and insulated by experienced area contractors at reduced costs, often with financial assistance. The opportunity to participate in that project ended in late March. 

The Andover Energy Group, comprising several local residents interested in alternative energy and energy efficiency, has guided the activities at the local level and played a prominent role in improving the comfort and energy-efficiency of the Town Office Building through a year-long project that included weatherization, a solar-electric system, and the installation of air-source heat pumps to replace an oil heating system.

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