Sunny Forecast for Solar Group Buy Programs
Milwaukee, WI- Seventeen home and business owners in the Milwaukee area have helped reach the Milwaukee Shines and Solar Shorewood solar group buy program’s first benchmark of 50 kW of solar contracts. The programs are a result of the City of Milwaukee’s and Village of Shorewood’s partnerships with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA). The meeting of this benchmark means that participants will see an even further decrease on the costs of their solar installations. The programs are on track to pass their second benchmark of 100 kW before the deadline of August 31st.
The solar group buy programs focus on community outreach through one-hour information sessions called Solar Power Hours. These Solar Power Hours are held at restaurants, coffee shops, libraries, bars, and schools throughout the neighborhoods of Milwaukee and Shorewood. At Solar Power Hours, home and business owners learn about solar technology, how the program works, options for financing a solar installation, and information on available incentives. Additionally, attendees have the opportunity to meet with representatives from the programs’ selected solar installer, Arch Electric. Almost 200 individuals have attended Solar Power Hours since April.
Since the two programs were launched in April of 2016, 17 homeowners have signed contracts to get solar on their homes and 33 more have proposals. Ben LeFort of Bay View was one of the first three participants to have his solar system installed. Ben expressed his enthusiasm about how easy this program made it for him to make solar on his home a reality. “The group buy program, in combination with the improved economics of solar in recent years, have reduced or eliminated all of the previously existing financial barriers. The whole package is there for homeowners: the program reduces the cost of the panels, takes care of the process of applying for Focus on Energy rebates, makes financing easy, has a great installer in Arch Electric, etc. It’s an easy, affordable investment in your property.”
This is the first time Milwaukee’s solar group buy program has covered the entire city. In the past, it has focused on individual neighborhoods. The program has previously seen success in Riverwest, Bay View, the East Side, Washington Heights, and Layton Boulevard West neighborhoods, totaling almost 100 home and businesses installing 322 kW of solar.
“Since we’ve expanded the program’s outreach focus to the entire city, we’re seeing interest from the Sherman Park neighborhood, the Jackson Park neighborhood… really folks from all over the City of Milwaukee are interested in solar,” said Elizabeth Hittman, Sustainability Program Coordinator for the City of Milwaukee’s Environmental Collaboration Office. “We scheduled presentations in nearly every aldermanic district, and as a result we’re seeing interest from a much broader array of individuals.”
Program participants have a deadline of August 31st to sign contracts for solar installation, with three more Power Hours scheduled through the month of August. The next Solar Power Hour is on Wednesday, 7/13 at 6pm at Camp Bar, 4044 N Oakland Ave, Shorewood, WI 53211. More Solar Power Hours will be held at the Riverwest Public House Cooperative and the Milwaukee Public Library Central Branch.
Visit www.midwestrenew.org for more information about the programs and a full list of Solar Power Hours.
The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) educational organization. Founded in 1990, the MREA promotes renewable energy and sustainable living through education and demonstration and hosts The Energy Fair. To learn more, call 715-592-6595 or visit www.midwestrenew.org The Group Buy Program is brought to you by the MREA with support from promotional partner the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative.