The solar industry is one of the fastest growing in the world, and here on Cape Cod we have powerful (pun intended!) local solar companies like Solar Rising that offer incredible service and reliable products. Co-founders Angela Hemmila and Chris Peterson answered a few questions for us about the industry, and their connection to Cape Cod.
What is your connection to Cape Cod?
Angela: I’m a “wash ashore” from Rhode Island. I moved to the Cape in 2007 for the AmeriCorps Cape Cod program. I lived in a house with the other members in Bourne. We did environmental service projects all over, so I was able to see a little of every town. I loved it so much, I decided to stick around after the program to start a career. My husband and his family are from Barnstable, so it made it an easier decision to make this a permanent home.
Chris: I am a native Cape Codder, born and raised in Cotuit. I have always had a strong connection with the ocean, which is why I never left.
How did you end up in the solar industry?
Angela: During my year in AmeriCorps, I was paired with the team at Cape and Islands Self Reliance. My main objective was to educate school kids on renewable energy. I met some of my current business partners during a solar installation on the house I was living in and was able to start a job in solar right after graduation.
Chris: I spent a good amount of time in my youth on construction sites as my father was a local building contractor. I enjoyed working with my hands but was always discouraged by the amount of waste and energy that went into the projects. Growing up with a love of the outdoors I have an appreciation for the environment which is what drew me to look at what other options were out there. I signed up at 4C’s for the renewable energy program in 2004 and never looked back.
What would you see are the greatest benefits to solar power?
Environmental – The sun provides enough clean energy in one hour to power the entire planet for a year. The more people that install solar, the cleaner and greener the environment.
Financial – Cape Cod has some of the highest electric rates in the state, switching to solar puts the control in your hands. Most customers are able to reduce their electric bills or completely eliminate them by installing a solar system.
Is Cape Cod really a good place for solar panels – it is cloudy a lot!?
Yes! Cape Cod gets as much sunlight throughout the year as parts of the southern United States. Our cool, sunny shoulder seasons also help to offset the gray winters. The Massachusetts net metering program allows customers to carry over any excess solar production from month to month. This means that even though we have a lot of cloudy days, customers are still able to eliminate their electric bills if their solar system is sized to their annual usage. You can save overproduction from spring and summer and apply it to your winter electric bills.
What are the greatest myths about solar? How do you dispel them?
Solar is not affordable. – There are lots of incentives available to residential and commercial customers at both the federal and the state level. There are also low interest loans that don’t require large upfront out of pocket payments. Small businesses have access to grants available through the USDA and ag produces can also use grant money through the department of agricultural resources. Most customers see paybacks from 4-7 years. Most large purchases, such as a car, can get paid off, but solar will provide you with a return on your investment and continue to save you money well after it’s paid off.
The solar industry has been in the news a lot lately, particularly when it comes to the subject of tariffs on solar panels from China. How will that impact the industry and Cape Cod?
We don’t see a major impact on our day to day installations. Some important things to keep in mind that when the news talks about the solar industry, they are mainly focused on utility scale projects, which buy a lot larger quantity and tend to buy more from China. We have always placed importance on purchasing higher end products from companies such as LG and SunPower that will perform better over time and won’t be as affected by the tariffs. The residential market is a relatively small portion of the industry, so even if tariffs are placed on panels we purchase it won’t be a full percentage on the total system cost to the end customer, as it’s one small piece to the overall project cost.
What is your idea of a perfect Cape Cod day?
Angela: Morning Yoga session at Innerglow Yoga in Mashpee. Riding bikes along the Shining Sea bike path to Woods Hole, tacos at Quicks Hole, capped off with a bonfire at Sandy Neck.
Chris: Sitting around a campfire on Sandy Neck with my wife, daughter, and friends.