May tornado clears way for solar powered homes

Connecticut

Four months after tornadoes ravaged parts of the state, Hamden continues picking up the pieces. The damage created a unique effect, clearing the way for families to apply for and install solar panels. 

Marie and Tom Ankner were hit hard in May when the storm battered the area.  Trees are still uprooted, logs litter the sides of streets and tarps hang over roofs.  

“It was like a war zone, wires down everywhere, trees down everywhere,” Marie Ankner recalled. 

The tornado toppled their massive, 100-year-old Oak tree.  The tree, crashed onto their home, garage and two of their cars, obliterating both. 

“Up until the time of the tornado we probably would not have been approved for solar panels because we had a large oak tree in the front,” Ankner said.  

600 homes in Hamden alone are now solar.  The town’s energy efficiency coordinator, Kathleen Schomaker says solar powered energy has perks for those who live in the state. 

“In Connecticut, it’s particularly important because we have the second highest electricity rates in country after Hawaii,” Schomaker told News 8. 

Schomaker says our state is at the end of the electric delivery system with the prices of electricity climbing the farther along you go. 

The town of Hamden is now helping to make solar energy more accessible for low and middle income families.  Connecticut Green Bank is teaming up with PosiGen to find the best option for families.  

“There was serious devastation and peoples’ lives are uprooted as well as their trees,” Schomaker said.  “t’s expensive to recover from that.” 

The Ankners are hopeful they will be able to be a bit more environmentally friendly and save some money.  

According to the Solar Estimate organization, the average payback time is about seven and a half years with an average lifetime savings of $56,000. 

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