Linn County solar energy group buy far exceeds expectations


Solar-Installation-MREA-702x350
Solar installations will be provided by Moxie Solar, founded in 2008 and based in North Liberty, Iowa. (growsolar.org)
Jenna Ladd | October 19, 2017

Homeowners in Linn County were encouraged to combine their buying power to significantly reduce the cost of installing solar panels this summer through the Solarize Cedar Rapids and Linn County initiative.

Organized by the City of Cedar Rapids, Linn County, The Nature Conservancy, Indian Creek Nature Center, Iowa 350 and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA), participants were offered a significant per Watt (W) discount each time the volume of buyers surpassed program tiers. The base price for participants was $2.45/W. All participants received a $0.05/W discount each time the group buy reached one of four milestones: 50 kilowatts (kW), 150 kW, 250 kW, and 350 kW.

The program offered a total of 23 educational sessions, or Solar Power Hours, for interested parties to learn more about the evolving solar industry and this initiative.

Amy Drahos is a Senior Air Quality Scientist at Linn County Public Health. She said in a recent press release, “The community support for the Solarize program has been incredible. Nearly 500 people attended a Solar Power Hour or requested more information about the program, with 105 households deciding to install solar. This program was a success thanks to the enthusiastic response from Linn County citizens and the dedicated community partners who recognize the benefits of solar energy.”

In the end, 105 households signed up to install solar panel systems, and the initiative nearly double its highest goal of 350 kW, installing a total of 611 kW. The large group buy means that participants will receive a rebate of $200 per kilowatt installed, or an average of $1,164 per household.

Cedar Rapids Sustainability Coordinator, Eric Holthaus, commented on the city’s role in the program, “The City served as an educational partner in this program.  Solar technology ten years ago is not the same as solar today.  We enjoyed helping residents become informed on this energy option, and it looks like many were excited to take a step toward cleaner energy and lower utility bills.”

The Solarize Cedar Rapids and Linn County initiative also provides a substantial environmental payoff. It is estimated that program participants will generate a combined total of nearly 700,000 kWh of clean solar energy annually. MREA reports that 927,000 pounds of carbon dioxide and 14 million gallons of water will be offset by this initiative during the first year alone.

The MREA has implemented this program in several other parts of the Midwest including Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Urbana-Champaign and Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. However, “The Solarize Cedar Rapids and Linn County program contributed the highest kW contracted to date,” according to MREA Executive Director, Nick Hylla. He added, “There is obviously a tremendous amount of interest in solar energy in eastern Iowa.”

The program wrapped up on September 30th. All solar installations will be completed by December 31, 2017.

Invest in solar energy to jumpstart Iowa’s economy


This letter, written by Sen. Joe Bolkcom – D, Iowa City, was also published in the February 24 edition of The Daily Iowan. Bolkcom, who is also the outreach and community education director for CGRER, is the sponsor of SF 99 – a bill that would incentivize solar energy use.

Imagine a readily available source of energy that could produce electricity for our homes and businesses, right where we live and work.

Solar energy could be the next new engine of job creation for Iowans, provided we seize the opportunities in front of us.

Iowa has become a world leader in biofuels and the big wind industry. This

Joe Bolkcom

is thanks to great natural resources (Sun, soils and wind) and smart state policies — and let’s not forget taxpayers, who have provided plenty of help in the form of public subsidies. Over the last decade, taxpayers have invested billions in these industries.

This investment has paid off by creating new jobs and new markets for Iowa products. Continue reading

Iowa legislators to consider solar energy incentives


Photo from the 2009 Solar Decathlon in Washington DC. Credit: F. Delventhal, Flickr.

A bill introduced in Des Moines today would provide incentives to Iowans who, following the lead of early-2000’s Sheryl Crow, would like to “soak up the sun” (to generate energy).

The bill, SF 99, would establish a state solar and small wind energy rebate program and fund that would offer financial incentives for Iowans to install solar hot water and photovoltaic systems in the commercial, agriculture and residential sectors. Continue reading

To achieve Obama’s SOTU goal, Iowa may need to invest in solar energy


 

Photo from the 2009 Solar Decathlon in Washington DC. Credit: F. Delventhal, Flickr.

 

Former Hawkeye football star Tim Dwight is among those pushing to incentivize solar energy in Iowa

In last night’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama set forth an ambitious national goal: to derive 80 percent of electricity from “clean energy” sources by 2035 – a notion praised by a group of key Senators.

“Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas,” he told the joint session of Congress.

But for the U.S. to reach that goal, states will need to drastically reshape their economies, and Iowa is no exception.

Though Iowa is now the second leading producer of wind energy in the country, about 72 percent of its energy still comes from coal-fire plants that are often outmoded, according an Iowa Physicians for Responsibility report. To reach Obama’s renewable goal, we may need to look to the sun.  Continue reading