PurePoint Energy: Lowering Electric Bills, Courtesy
of the Sun
Oct 02, 2014 03:56AM
● By Natasha Michaels and CJ Golden
At first it seems incongruous that Norwalk-based solar energy company founder Tom Wemyss moved from sunny Florida to the more volatile climate of the Northeast when he started PurePoint Energy in 2007. But, as he explains, “Connecticut has the second highest energy costs in the United States, second only to Hawaii. If I was looking for a place to come help people save money with solar energy, this was a good place to come.” Time has proven his strategy correct. Though PurePoint was launched during an economic downturn, the company has flourished since with a diverse mix of residential, commercial and agricultural clients in Connecticut and New York.
Overall, solar energy is attracting increased attention from residents in both states who are fed up with their high (and rising) electricity bills. “CL&P rates go up by double-digits each year,” Wemyss says. “That’s bad news for consumers, but good news for solar options because in contrast the cost of solar has come down more than half from when I started. The cost of panels themselves is down 80 percent. I look forward to the day when cost is not an issue and solar becomes a no-brainer for every consumer to consider. The incentives to convert to solar energy follow the expense trend, so they will start to fade away as the cost continues to go down.”
Connecticut has a lot of political support and funding behind renewable energy, including solar installation. A visit to the website EnergizeCT.com bears this out with an overwhelming array of financing and grant options available to consumers. PurePoint works with consumers to sort through the various options, including determining whether ownership or leasing of solar panels is optimal and whether to finance the whole project or put money down and pay a fixed monthly cost. PurePoint typically recommends owning the panels, however - as with every big home improvement decision - there are pros and cons attached to every option. Wemyss says his team has a pre-qualification process where they work with clients to assess their goals and match them to the best funding programs.
PurePoint’s team will spend 3-4 hours of work before meeting with a new client, creating a 3D rendering of the house and site, analyzing the direction of the house, the tilt of the roof, the amount of sunlight the panels will get and assessing other considerations. This preparation is critical to a successful installation process, Wemyss says. “It’s really important that we are setting reasonable expectations for the client and understanding what they want compared to what is possible. Sometimes it’s not possible for solar to offset someone’s entire electric bill. It’s much better to know that and communicate it up front.”
While 75 percent of PurePoint’s business is in residential installations, the firm also does a good deal of agricultural work. Innovative installations were done at The Hickories in Ridgefield and at Averill Farm in Washington Depot. “Dairy farms use a huge amount of electricity,” Wemyss explains. “Solar is a huge blessing for them, because they are just harnessing the power of the earth.” At Averill, PurePoint replaced a tent that kept blowing away with a permanent solar farmstand.
PurePoint’s initial residential customers were baby boomers, but newer financing options have made solar energy more appealing to new types of customers, including couples, young families, and retirees on a fixed income. “Solar is a green alternative with very little impact on the environment,” Wemyss explains. “If you can go solar with little or no money down, save money on your electricity, and do something good for the environment, why wouldn’t you do it?”
Solar panels can be installed all year, except in extreme temperatures at either end of the spectrum. Many clients are surprised to discover their solar panels still produce electricity even when it’s raining, Wemyss says.
For unbiased and comprehensive information about solar energy financing and funding options available to Connecticut homeowners, visit EnergizeCT.com.
Location: PurePoint Energy, 28 Knight St, Norwalk. For more information, call 203-642-4105 or visit PurePointEnergy.com. See ad, page 25.
Natasha Michaels is a contributing writer to Natural Awakenings Fairfield County.