Solar Success in Saugerties

Left to right: Cara DeVorito, Bob Hlavaty and Carole Furman

Left to right: Cara DeVorito, Bob Hlavaty and Carole Furman

Congratulations to Saugerties’ residents and business owners for responding so enthusiastically to the Solarize Saugerties campaign that’s been running since early March and is now in its final month! The ten percent discount on solar panels (roof or ground) is still available to anyone who registers for a free, no-obligation site assessment by June 30. I’d like to share the results so far..

Even though the campaign was open to all residents and business owners in Ulster County (and adjacent areas of Greene County), it was almost exclusively Saugerties folks who showed up at the informational events and open houses, There were well over 200 of you. So far, there were 253 registrations for site assessments and 120 proposals issued by installers SunPower by NYSSF, Lighthouse Solar, and Direct Energy Solar. Seventy-six more leads remain in the pipeline. The deadline for signing a contract is July 31.


Those are very good numbers according to John Wackman of Solarize Hudson Valley, the organization that supports the local campaigns in our region. It wouldn’t have been so successful without the support of community organizations who helped publicize the events, like Sustainable Saugerties, the Saugerties Farmers’ Market, Esopus Creek Conservancy, and the Chamber of Commerce. Town and merchant support, plus that of solarized residents Dennis Skalla, Larry Ulfik and Michael Courtney, have also been crucial. The merchants who allowed volunteers to post notices of events in their windows again and again are happily too numerous to mention. Smith’s Hardware gave Solarize Saugerties their front windows for a promotional display for over two weeks, featuring the solar (artwork) panels by Saugerties school children that will outlast this campaign. The team is looking for a place in Saugerties to give it a final showing over the summer before handing it back to art teacher Elise Tucci.

Team members appreciated their experience in many different ways. For me, the most important thing has been about raising the public profile for solar-energy awareness in a general way. Solar (and wind, and hydro) energy is either the wave of the future or we don’t have one, at least not one as electrified as what we have now, The Solarize Saugerties campaign has been an opportunity, what with Nyserda backing and Solarize Hudson Valley support, to help educate the public. Volunteer Carole Furman points out that it’s interesting that Saugerties town government is looking into a solar farm that would supply the needs of municipal buildings. We’re all moving in the same direction, it would seem.

Team leader Mary O’Donnell says she values showing that “Solarize Saugerties demonstrates how local volunteers, nonprofits, government, and the private sector can work together on a common goal.” Nany on the team saw volunteering for the Solarize campaign as an opportunity to put convictions into action. As Skip Arthur puts it, “The Solarize campaign has enabled myself and others to actually take concrete steps to lessen our dependence on fossil-fuel-derived power.”

“We stepped up to be part of the solution to the climate chaos that is looming on our horizon,” says Vivian Beatrice. Cara deVito seconds these sentiments, saying “A group of ten volunteers within our community have made a small step towards saving life on earth as we know it.”

Mutual appreciation among team members has become a defining characteristic of the four-month project. Bob Hlavaty was looking for a way to share his professional experience and expertise when he joined the team. He feels that he received more than he gave through working with others. Ray Bergen expressed a similar sentiment.

Everyone gives credit for much of the team dynamic to Mary O’Donnell.

The team is still hard at work. Look for Solarize Saugerties at the farmers’ market this month and sign up either there or on the Solarize Hudson Valley website. Video clips from the last informational workshop can be seen on Lighthouse Channel 23.