Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

News

May 23, 2013

Solar power's shining moment

Tax incentives, savings add up to industry's bright future

Chad Stern doesn’t look like a revolutionary.

He doesn’t wear a tricornered hat or carry around a muzzle-loader. He’s got a wife and two kids and he goes to work every day.

But he is part of a revolution — a shift in Massachusetts toward the use of solar energy to generate electricity to power everything from home furnaces and air conditioners to lightbulbs and iPads.

Stern recently installed a grid of solar panels on the roof of his 4 Highland Ave. home that he shares with his wife, Caralyn, along with their two children, 4-year-old Austin and 2-year-old Calvin.

They are taking advantage of a suite of tax and other incentives from the federal and state governments that make the $40,000 project financially feasible. Of course, it helps that he works for a solar installation company, too.

The 39-year-old Stern, a former hockey player at Phillips Academy and later the school’s water polo coach, is general manager of a Hawaii-based company called RevoluSun that recently opened its first franchise in the lower-48 in Burlington.

Since starting up in September, the company already has 50 customers in the pipeline and Stern expects more in the sales cycle as the summer heats up.

“Timing and incentives have never been better for Massachusetts homeowners to go solar,” Stern said, adding, “When the sun starts to shine, people say, ‘Let’s talk.’”

A 1992 graduate of Phillips, Stern then headed off to the University of Vermont. He is now working on his master’s degree in environmental management and sustainability from Harvard University.

“We are in the educational phase in Massachusetts,” he said. “Solar is accepted in Hawaii; here, it’s still kind of new.”

Nonetheless, in the last few years, due to a combination of factors, the number of people with solar panels on their roofs has skyrocketed.

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