(BLOOMINGTON) – Starting in May, homeowners, businesses, and nonprofits in Bloomington and Monroe and surrounding counties will have an opportunity to install solar panels at favorable rates during the fourth annual Solarize initiative.
The City has renewed its partnership with the Solar Indiana Renewable Energy Network (SIREN) for Solarize 2019 to demonstrate its ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship and support for grassroots community efforts to increase access to renewable energy.
The Solarize 2019 campaign will kick off with public information sessions at Bloomington City Hall (401 North Morton St.) at 7 p.m. on May 7. The program is open to residential, commercial, and nonprofit property owners in Brown, Greene, Lawrence, Monroe, Morgan, Orange, and Owen counties. Residents interested in attending a session are asked to fill out an online form at www.tinyurl.com/HelpingYouGoSolar to get started.
More than 500 residents attended information sessions SIREN led in 2017 and 2018; and, to date, 184 homeowners have installed over 1.2 megawatts of solar capacity through this program. A map of solar installations in Monroe County and beyond is available at https://www.sirensolar.org/solar-map.
Residential solar capacity increased in tandem with municipal trends in 2018. The City of Bloomington was recently approved as an EPA Green Power Partner for its 2018 solar electricity generation at City facilities. Solar panels provided approximately five percent of the electricity used at City facilities in 2018. Citywide renewable electricity programs (such as Solarize) were cited as criteria for Bloomington’s selection as Indiana’s greenest city by Insurify earlier this spring.
“Partnering with Solarize has been a great collaboration to reduce our community’s greenhouse gas emissions, a top priority of our Sustainability Action Plan,” said Mayor John Hamilton. “I especially encourage homeowners to consider installing a solar array this year to take advantage of low equipment costs, federal tax credits, and other incentives while they are still available.”
2019 is the last year that homeowners will be able to claim a federal tax credit equal to 30 percent of the installation price. The solar tax credit for homeowners is currently scheduled to step down to 26 percent in 2020 and then to 22 percent in 2021. As an additional incentive, Duke Energy customers will be able to lock in the benefits of net metering until 2032 for solar purchases made this year.
“Going solar is much more affordable than most people realize. Equipment costs fell drastically in the last decade but they have leveled off now. If you have been waiting to buy, it does not make sense to wait any longer because that will just cost you a year of net metering benefits and reduce the tax credit you can claim,” said SIREN volunteer Darrell Boggess.
The Solarize program makes a solar installation more affordable through negotiated volume purchases. Solarize 2019 pricing is comparable to that for 2018. After the federal tax credit, a homeowner can expect to spend approximately $8,000 to acquire a solar system when standard components are chosen and the system is sized to produce about half of the electricity used by a typical home.
Solarize’s group-buy arrangement also reduces marketing costs for install partners, who pass on part of their savings as a charitable contribution to Indiana Solar for All (ISFA), a program designed to increase lower-income residents’ access to renewable energy. Applications for solar installations through ISFA, a project of the nonprofit Center for Sustainable Living, will be available in December.