Solarize Athens also looking for installers
On October 27, 2015, a group of four launched Solarize Athens, a program to reduce the cost of installing solar for homeowners and businesses in Athens-Clarke County, Oconee County, and neighboring communities.
Solarize is a way for the community to band together and buy solar from the same installer within the same timeframe. The more people that participate, the more the cost for each individual goes down. This works because it reduces transportation costs to the installer as well as the marketing costs of finding new clients.
This is the second solarize program to be launched in the state of Georgia. The City of Tybee Island launched the first in 2014 and it was so popular that it was expanded to include all of Chatham County. By the end of the program, 60 residents had installation contracts with Hannah Solar.
Other cities in the southeast are launching solarize projects as well. Solarize Asheville in North Carolina prompted over 100 contracts just within the first few months.
The coalition launching Solarize Athens includes two nonprofit organizations, Environment Georgia and Georgia Interfaith Power & Light; a local volunteer organization called Georgia Climate Change Coalition; and Solar CrowdSource, a company aimed at reducing the soft costs of solar.
The group launched the program at a town hall meeting on October 27, where 60 community members attended to hear more about the program. Attendees also had the chance at this meeting to provide input on what they wanted prioritized when choosing the installer for the project (i.e. system quality, installer’s experience, low-income community project, etc.).
“Community input is a necessary component of a solarize program,” said Colleen McLoughlin, solar campaign organizer for Environment Georgia and project lead manager for Solarize Athens. “We want to make sure the people of Athens and surrounding communities are the ones driving this program. After all, its success depends on community participation.
Solarize Athens released the Request for Proposals on Friday, October 30. This and other information can be found on the project’s website, http://www.solarcrowdsource.com/projects/solarize-athens/. In two weeks, a group of coalition partners and community members will choose the installer and enrollment will begin. Those interested have until March 31, 2016 to sign up for their free site visit and consultation about whether solar would make sense on their property.