Announced on February 28th, Solarize Blacksburg is a partnership using bulk purchasing power to expand solar energy use even further within the Town of Blacksburg. I don’t know the details yet, but personally I love this news. Bulk purchasing, combined with tax credits available and realized savings, can mean a much greater reach and acceptance of solar energy here in Blacksburg. I think very highly not only of the groups involved, but also some of the individuals I’ve had the privilege to meet, and I’m excited to see what they can do with this program. The full press release is below – if you’re free on March 5th, come out to Market Square Park to here all about this new venture!
Mayor Ron Rordam, members of Town Council, and local affordable housing and clean energy organizations will join together on Wednesday, March 5, 4pm at Market Square Park to officially launch Solarize Blacksburg. Solarize Blacksburg is a new program designed to make solar affordable and accessible to homeowners and businesses in Blacksburg. Now, for the first time, Blacksburg residents can go solar for no upfront cost, with roughly the same cost per month as their existing electricity bill, while locking in current utility rates.
Solarize Blacksburg is a partnership between the Town of Blacksburg, Community Housing Partners, VA SUN, a statewide solar development and advocacy non-profit, local solar installers Baseline Solar and Solar Connexion, and local residents.
Solarize Blacksburg seeks to dramatically expand solar in Blacksburg in 2014 by using bulk purchasing to make solar affordable through economies of scale, standardized pricing, and streamlined financing. Bulk purchasing, an idea similar to wholesale and buying in bulk at stores like Costco, allows Blacksburg homeowners to save money on the price of solar by contracting for installations as a group, driving down the overall cost of installations. The Solarize program will run for three months, through the end of May 2014.
“Finding new and more affordable ways to provide sustainable energy is so important to the town as we move forward, “said Blacksburg Mayor Ron Rordam. “We cannot continue to operate in the past. This project, which makes solar energy more affordable, is vital to the town’s future.”
“I’ve heard over and over from my neighbors that they’d go solar in a heartbeat, if only the numbers penciled out,” said Mason Cavell, Energy Programs Director for Community Housing Partners. “Well, we sharpened our pencils, and made the numbers work. We lined up the discounts, secured the loan programs, and streamlined the process. Now Blacksburg homeowners can go solar for no upfront cost and continue paying about the same as their existing electricity bills.”
In order to make solar cost the same as standard electricity, the Solarize Blacksburg program combines the bulk discounts, a 30% federal tax credit, and electricity savings, with long-term financing. The loan payments on a solar system for a typical house will now equal the electricity savings, while protecting the homeowner or business from increases in electricity prices in the future.
The campaign starts with opportunities for learning how solar works—at neighborhood meetings, house parties, brownbag lunches, and farmers markets. “We’re giving folks the tools and information they need to understand how solar can work for them,” said Carol Davis, Blacksburg Sustainability Manager. “Solar is not a far-off, futuristic technology. It’s something anyone with the roofspace can do right now to save money.”
When a homeowner or business is interested in going solar, Solarize Blacksburg organizers first conduct a satellite site assessment to determine if the roof is good for solar—looking for trees and other obstructions. From there, a free home assessment is conducted to determine how large or small of a system is needed to provide power for the home.
The Solarize Blacksburg program is a key component of the Town’s wider efforts to achieve its greenhouse gas reduction goals, part of the Blacksburg Climate Action Plan. Additionally, it could help Blacksburg win the Georgetown University Energy Prize, a national competition which comes with a $5 million dollar award to the town or county with the highest reduction in energy use, either through increased energy efficiency, or through renewable energy production.
“What a great and exciting program for Blacksburg citizens,” said Councilman John Bush. “Solarize Blacksburg demonstrates yet again the regional leadership from the Town and its partners to promote green technologies and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. This is a cost effective solution for those who want to pursue solar solutions at the residential scale.”
Homeowners or businesses interested in learning more about going solar or participating in the bulk purchase campaign are encouraged to attend the launch on March 5 or visit solarizeblacksburg.org to get started.
For additional information:
Carol Davis – email@example.com
Town of Blacksburg
Mason Cavell - firstname.lastname@example.org
Energy Programs Director
Community Housing Partners
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