(BLOOMINGTON) – Homeowners, businesses, and nonprofits in Bloomington and Monroe and surrounding counties can learn more about installing solar panels at affordable rates during the fourth year of the Solarize initiative. The City of Bloomington is again partnering with Solar Indiana Renewable Energy Network (SIREN) to make it easier and more affordable for residents and organizations to go solar. Through Solarize, more than 250 residents have installed 1.8 mW solar capacity over four years.
Information sessions for prospective participants begin March 24th at City Hall (401 North Morton Street). The program is open to residential, commercial, and nonprofit property owners in Brown, Greene, Lawrence, Monroe, Morgan, Orange, and Owen counties.
Residents can get started by registering for information at www.tinyurl.com/HelpingYouGoSolar. Although attendance at one of the 10 information sessions to be held through October is required for participation, registration does not commit the prospective participant to installation.
The Solarize program makes solar installation more affordable through negotiated volume purchases with a solar installer. After applying for the federal tax credit, a homeowner can expect a small solar system to cost about $8,000 when sized to offset half of the electricity used by a typical home. Currently, the federal tax credit allows homeowners to deduct 26 percent of the cost of installing a solar energy system from the taxes they owe, but the deduction is scheduled to step down to 22 percent in 2021. As an additional incentive, Duke Energy customers can lock in the benefits of net metering until 2032 for solar purchases.
Lower-income residents are invited to apply for solar installation assistance through Indiana Solar for All (ISFA). The program is subsidized through the savings solar installers realize in terms of marketing costs by participating in the Solarize group-buy arrangement. ISFA is a project of the nonprofit Center for Sustainable Living.
During 2019, Solarize information sessions were attended by 250 people and resulted in 70 new contracts to install 600 kilowatts of solar capacity, adding roughly ten percent of the previous total county-wide. An interactive map of some Indiana solar installations can be found at https://www.sirensolar.org/solar-map.
The Solarize program continues to play a pivotal role in helping to realize the City’s sustainability goals, including mitigating carbon emissions, fostering the health of the ecosystem, and creating economic opportunity for those at all income levels. Residential solar capacity has increased in tandem with increases in a renewable generation on municipal facilities. An EPA Green Power Partner, the City of Bloomington has installed over $13 million of solar capacity at 32 City facilities. Solar panels at City facilities generated 2.44 gWh of renewable energy in 2019, a 60 percent increase over the previous generation. Efforts to increase renewable energy production, such as Solarize, have contributed to Bloomington receiving multiple environmental awards, including the Governor’s Greening the Government Award in September 2019.
“Reducing our community’s greenhouse gas emissions is a top priority, and one that requires the collective action of government, residents, and businesses,” said Mayor John Hamilton. “The City is pleased to have the opportunity to partner with SIREN to facilitate access to renewable energy at serious savings for our residents.”
SIREN will be partnering for Solarize this year with Solar Energy Solutions (SES). The solar installer is working locally to build a new clean energy economy through the creation of well-paid sustainable jobs while delivering high-quality renewable energy solutions throughout the Midwest. SES specializes in the engineering, procurement, and construction of residential, commercial, institutional, and utility photovoltaic and solar thermal systems.