Frequently Asked Questions

ABOUT US

We’re a democratically controlled worker-owned co-op, which means we don’t hire folks who just “go to a job”. Our employees have a direct stake in the quality of their work, from the first site visit to the moment we turn on your array. Plus we’re local, not some faceless national franchise. Combined with our mindset for superior quality, that means you’ll be working with people who care about what they do. Talk with any of us and you’ll immediately sense the difference. We’re happy to be doing what we’re doing, committed to the business as owners, and excited to help you install Great Sky Solar array on your home or property! 

In 2012, Governor Patrick signed legislation protecting a new class of company called “Benefit Companies,” also known as “Triple Bottom Line Businesses.” Our non-debatable bottom lines are: People, Profit & Planet. We can’t compromise on any one of these at the expense of the others.

Benefit Companies fly in the face of our longstanding profit-at-all-costs way of doing things, which has historically caused harm to people, communities, and natural resources everywhere. Even progressive companies with hearts initially in the right place can slowly creep into disdainful practices because the only “reason to be” is to make profit and grow. Growth isn’t necessarily bad, but to us the question is always: who and what is that growth serving?

Now that Benefit Companies have protection from the Commonwealth, all we have to worry about is doing what we love well. And as it turns out, that’s how most people want to live their lives! Check out THIS PAGE for an informative blurb on the new law. It’s not the be-all-end-all solution to everything that ails modern entrepreneurship, but it’s a massive step in the right direction, and we’re thrilled to be one of the companies leading the charge.

ABOUT YOU

Get in touch with us and schedule a free site visit! We’ll set up a time that’s convenient for you and come take a look in person. These are some of the things we consider:

Exposure: Ideally, nothing should obstruct the sun from your roof. We want as much sunlight as possible shining on your house, year-round. Don’t worry about cloud cover – the Northeast actually gets plenty of sun for your needs.

Available roof / land space: Your solar system is limited only by its size – more panels mean more power. Panels take up space. Having a roof (or land, in the case of ground-mounts) large enough to meet your needs is an important first step in determining how good a match your home will be for a solar array.

Roof orientation: In New England, the closer to south your roof faces, the more efficiently solar panels collect energy. A roof that isn’t perfectly oriented isn’t a deal-breaker, though! There are workarounds we can employ in some cases.

how_does_it_work_diagram v2

The image above represents a rough outline of an average residential solar array. Every system is customized to meet the unique demands of the site. 

 

ABOUT OUR PANELS

Great Sky Solar is proud to use the highest-quality panels. We strive to use American-made components with proven quality, reliability, and durability. The materials we use even exceed America’s high environmental safety and labor standards. In fact, SolarWorld (one of our major suppliers) was identified by the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition as one of the world’s greenest solar companies.

 

Solar panels are dark in color and have a slick, tempered glass surface, so snow is quick to melt once the sun’s shining again. Over the course of a whole year, snow cover has an extremely small effect on total power output. As for hail and other objects falling from the sky? Well, our SolarWorld panels are super durable, and come with a 25 year warranty. They’re designed to withstand hail storms, winds over 100 miles an hour (160 km/hr.) and even bolts of lightning.

(Fun fact: did you know that the surface of a lightning bolt is hotter than the surface of the sun?) 

 

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY

It depends! There are many worksite variables, incentives, and financing options that make it almost impossible to say exactly what your personalized project will look like. We would need to first do an in-depth site survey and discuss your preferred financing options. While you can own a system for $0 down and actually start earning money out of the gate, systems typically cost about $4.50/Watt (give or take) depending on the size of the array. An average residential home could install a system anywhere between 4-10kW, bringing the total cost for the system to $16,000-$40,000.

Financing options include loans, leases, PPAs, and outright ownership. Each of these options has specific pros and cons. Our goal is to put all the options on the table and help you figure out what works best for you. Depending on what you choose, you may be eligible for several different state and federal credits, specifically created with the goal of putting money back into the pockets of folks who have chosen to purchase clean, renewable energy. With the current incentives, many loans and leases end up being paid down incredibly quickly.

Of course there’s more, but hitting all the important points would require a lot more information specific to you and your situation. If we’ve piqued your interest, please don’t hesitate to call us and set up a site survey.

There are a number of incentives that you can receive, depending on the total size of the system, that make going solar now better than ever:

  • Solar Renewable Energy credits (SRECs) are given out by Massachusetts to promote green energy technology. The credits earned can then be sold in a market. SREC payoffs come in the form of a quarterly check.
  • Federal tax credit (ITC credit)
  • State tax credit

With these rebates and incentives, paying down home renovation loans to finance your solar array can happen even quicker than you may expect!

The amount your home value increases depends on the size of the system and how long it’s been in operation. Initially (within the first few years), it can sometimes be as much as it cost to install the system. For smaller systems, it may not increase as much.

Despite the myriad of variables, we can say for certain that owning a home with no or little electric bill has substantial value for buyers.

It sure can! Many of the factors discussed above contribute to that answer – size of the system, roof orientation, the amount and quality of exposure. But how much energy you use, and how much of that you’re looking to offset, are the biggest determinants in what solar can do for you. This is a question we think is best answered person to person, so give us a call to schedule a free site visit, or let us know when we can call you, and we can talk about it. 

 

WHAT WE DO

Absolutely. And we can work with non-profits too, however, currently 501(c)3 non-profits are not eligible for all the tax credits available to residential or for-profit commercial ventures (we’re hoping that changes soon). 

Through the Mass Save® program, our partners at Co-op Power do FREE home energy assessments. Unlike other “no cost energy audits,” they have zero sales pressure! They’re instead all about saving you money, seeing what products and services are available for the best rate, and working with you to see what you qualify for right out of the gate. In small or big ways, you can begin saving money and making your home more sustainable and efficient immediately.

To sign up for your own no-cost home energy assessment with Co-op Power, CLICK HERE!

Site surveys take about an hour of your time, and it helps if you have your electric bill at the ready, either to email or physically hand us. This way, we can calculate your energy savings based on your particular rates and power use. After looking at satellite photos to get an overview of the site’s feasibility, we’ll:
1.) Physically get up on your roof and take measurements so we can work up how many panels we can fit.
2.) Look at your electrical box to check its capacity and specifications.
3.) Look at the rafters so we can determine whether they’re up to code for the load-bearing aspect of the possible solar array.

Contact us today to schedule a site visit! 

This will vary based on the size of the array. Most commonly, a smaller setup will take us only a couple of days. However, there are mitigating factors. Some roofs are quite steep, have physical challenges to work around, or may need some internal reinforcement. One of the biggest hangups is that each individual town moves at a different pace for permitting and approvals. There’s also weather to take into account. If we’re doing a winter install, we’ll be dodging snowfalls, frost, and cold too unbearable to work in, so it may range from week to a month. No matter what, we’ll keep you posted on your system’s progress and get your panels as quickly as possible.

 

HELP!

We’d love to answer any more questions you may have, so feel free to get in touch with us to set up a site visit and a chat!

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