It wasn't hard to tell who was sold on solar at Solar Works Schoharie's first public outreach Thursday:
The event, held at SUNY Cobleskill's Center for Environmental Science & Technology building, drew a crowd of about 40, many of them armed with questions for Revolution Solar, the certified contractor vetted and selected by Solar Works' as the program's solar installer for the 2014 season.
Solar Works Schoharie is a local, non-profit group of volunteers working to bring in solar and bring down the cost of it through collective purchasing, said Sandy MacKay of Cobleskill, one of those involved.
Drawing on Mr. MacKay's past life as a planner, the group was able to develop a 19-page request for proposals that went out to about 200 installers on the NYSERDA-approved list.
NYSERDA-the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority-approval of both installers and individual solar installations is crucial because the cash rebates they offer is what's making solar so tempting now,
Mr. MacKay said rebates would cut about $3,000 from a typical $15,000 solar installation; federal tax credits would increase savings to about half of that project's total cost.
"We're basically marketing for Revolution so we can bring in as much solar as possible and collectively, bring the cost for everyone down," he said.
Many of the questions Thursday focused on whether individual sites were appropriate for solar and how to go about getting the rebates and tax credits.
Others asked about maintenance of the panels, especially in the winter, and CJ Jiang, who lives in the Village of Cobleskill, asked about neighbors, zoning codes, and historic district regulations.
Linda Cross of Carlisle stressed the need to be familiar with local regulations before going ahead with solar.
"You'll save yourself a lot of grief," she said.
Mr. MacKay said he's discussed permitting issues with Village Codes Enforcement Officer Mike Piccolo and for solar panels installed on roofs, it's not an issue.
But with ground and pole mounts, "They haven't figured out how to deal with it."
Katherine Hawkins of Summit, another member of Solar Works, predicted that it won't be long before issues like those are non-issues.
"I suspect that as we get further into the future and climate change, there's going to be less complacency and solar is going to become commonplace," she said.
The Solar Works Schoharie program will be repeated Sunday, April 27, 4pm at Middleburgh Library.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Solar Works Schoharie, PO Box 195, Cobleskill, NY 12043.