Many people like the idea of using renewable energy such as solar power, but the high costs of installation have been holding them back.
Blacksburg is launching a program that is the first of its kind in the state, which could dramatically cut those costs.
A new program called, Solarize Blacksburg will use an array of financial tools based on bulk purchasing and other financial incentives that could cut the cost of a rooftop solar system almost in half.
“It depends on how many people sign up. The more people who sign up, the lower the price and the higher the discount. You couple that with the federal 30% tax credit and you’re looking at systems that are somewhere between 40 to 45 per cent below the initial cost and so we’re looking at average residential system," says Mason Cavell, Energy Programs Director with Community Housing Partners.
Blacksburg is the first town in the state to try to the solarize concept, which began in Oregon. If the pilot project is successful here Cavell hopes it will be done in other parts of the state.
“This is really the first time that any concerted effort has been made to bring solar to a cost where you earn a payback in under 10 years. And so this is something that could pay for itself and pay for itself more so as energy prices go up.”
Customers would stay connected to the grid, drawing electricity as needed to augment their solar systems on cloudy days or at night. During high solar producing hours, if they make more electricity than they can use, they will get a credit for the power on their next energy bill. The Solarize Blacksburg program is part of the town’s effort to meet greenhouse gas reduction goals outlined in the Blacksburg Climate Action Plan.
Homeowners and businesses interested in learning more about going solar are invited to a kick off at Market Square Park in Blacksburg March 5, at 4:00 p.m.