By Don Moreland
Solarize Athens is back to give the residents of Athens-Clarke County and adjacent communities another chance to leverage the power of group purchasing to save on the cost of solar energy. The first Solarize Athens program in 2016 was a huge success with 68 installations, adding 430kW of new solar capacity, and avoiding over 840,000 lbs of CO2 emissions.
The new Solarize Athens program features exciting new products at lower costs and more community support than before. New products include modern, high-efficiency solar panels, battery storage systems such as the Tesla Powerwall 2, and EV charging stations for homes and businesses. Participants will save up to 10% more than the previous program.
The program is already off to a strong start with local firm, W&A Engineering, contracting for just over 40kW and Athens-Clarke County contracting for 60kW. “Because commercial and residential installations count towards the program as a whole, these contracts together springboard us into Tier 3 residential pricing before we launch the campaign,” said Don Moreland, founder of Solar Crowdsource and administrator of the program; “This means the average residential solar system is already $280 cheaper, with additional savings accumulating as the program participation grows.”
“W&A Engineering is proud to be part of the Solarize Athens program,” said Jon Williams, President and CEO. “Our mission is to build better communities through innovative and efficient design. The new W&A office space, an adaptive reuse renovation of an old mill, will incorporate our firm’s mission into the design by being the first contract of the Solarize Athens program. Participation by W&A Engineering will boost participation and lower the cost of solar for all who choose to participate. W&A is honored to be a steward for local businesses looking to incorporate solar energy and adopt sustainable practices within our community,” Williams said.
Athens-Clarke County is using the Solarize program to add solar to the new Cooperative Extension and Fire Station 2 facilities on the west side of Athens. These installations will reduce ongoing annual expenses and generate enough renewable energy to offset more than ¼ of their total energy use. “Our participation in Solarize Athens was a great fit” reports Andrew Saunders, Athens-Clarke County Sustainability Officer, “Solarize allows us to decrease community-wide solar costs while working to support renewable energy deployment at our facilities.”
By vetting materials, contractors, and pricing in advance and having the support of the community, Solarize programs make going solar easier and more affordable. The organizers of the campaign, which include the City of Athens-Clark Unified Government, Georgia Climate Change Coalition, 100% Athens, Environment Georgia, Georgia Interfaith Power and Light, and Solar Crowdsource, will encourage residents, local governments and businesses to sign-up for a solar evaluation between August 28th until February 28th next year.
“This is a great opportunity for homeowners, businesses, the city, and organizations in the community to support the goal of 100% Renewable Energy in Athens while reducing their own power bills, said Cary Ritzler, Environment Georgia’s 100% Athens Organizer. “People often ask ‘how will we get to 100%?’ Part of the answer is through efforts like this, where we can work together as a community to drive down the price of solar and make it more affordable for everyone.”
Alternative Energy Southeast (“AES”), which was selected through a competitive bid for the first Solarize Athens program, will again be the exclusive installation contractor this go-around. “We are grateful for the opportunity Solarize Athens presents and we are ready to deliver top quality service to Athens-area homes and businesses”, said Montana Busch, founder and President of AES.
Predecessor Solarize programs include the first Athens program, Decatur-DeKalb, Dunwoody, Atlanta, Carrollton-Carroll, Newton-Morgan, Middle Georgia, and Roswell and combine to over 450 solar installations, 3.5 MW of added solar capacity, and 1.5 MWh of battery storage.
Solarize programs facilitate savings on the cost of solar energy and battery storage by leveraging the power of group purchasing. Pricing is based on a tiered system; more participation helps to bring the price down for everyone.
The free campaign launch event will be August 28th at 6:30 pm at the Bobby Snipes Water Resource Center. Q & A will follow a presentation. Light refreshments will be served. For questions about this program, call 770-288-0440.
Solarize Athens is now accepting pre-registrations for solar evaluations. Go to SolarizeAthens.com for more information.