partnership with the city aims to reduce the cost of installing solar panels | local government

Installing solar panels can reduce homeowners’ electricity bills over time, but they can be expensive at first and that’s where a partnership between the City of Charlottesville and the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP) non-profit comes into play.

Through their cooperation, the partners hope to make the switch to solar energy easier and cheaper for city residents.

Until June 30, Charlottesville homeowners and businesses can enroll in the Solarize Cville program to receive a free solar satellite assessment and get discounted pricing and approved installers.

“Our goal is to be a resource and a helping hand to guide people through the process and to connect people with trusted installers who will offer discounted rates to attendees,” said Katie VanLangen, Director of LEAP’s Solarize Cville program. “We’re able to get these discounted rates because we have so many people signing up that they’re able to basically give us wholesale pricing; it won’t be free. It’s about making things easier and more affordable and knowing that you’re going to save money right from the start.

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The total price for installation varies by home or business, but VanLangen said the rebate will reduce the cost to between 10% and 20% of the market rate. This makes solar power available at around $10,000 to $25,000 in total cost per home.

While the program isn’t new to the city — it started in 2014 — this year the city and LEAP promoted it because the federal solar income tax credit, which is given to homeowners who install solar panels, drops from 26% to 22% at the end of 2022.

“A really big push of our program this year in particular is letting people know that if they want to get that 26% credit, they have to sign up and have their system installed by the end of the year. We therefore encourage people to sign contracts with their installers by the end of August in order to obtain credit by the end of the year, thereby reducing the actual costs people pay for their system. “said VanLangen.

Susan Elliott, manager of the city’s climate protection program, said the city’s partnership with LEAP is part of the city’s efforts to meet its climate goals.

“It really helps meet the city’s climate goals in terms of bringing that local clean energy into our community,” Elliott said.

Another goal of the program is to help educate interested owners and ensure that what they are getting is legitimate and at a fair price.

“There is a lot of confusion in the market, there are a lot of barriers to entry. People don’t really know who to trust when there are people knocking on doors, promising things that might be too good to be true,” VanLange said. “And as a local nonprofit, we really want to serve as a kind of trusted partner throughout the process.”

Since 2014, 714 solar system contracts have been signed through LEAP’s Solarize programs across the state, generating more than 6.3 megawatts of solar capacity and worth more than $17 million.

Elliott said installing solar panels has both environmental and economic benefits.

“In terms of reducing the carbon emissions we put into the air, every kilowatt hour of clean energy is a kilowatt of emissions we don’t use,” she said. “The panels end up being self-funding over their lifetime and whatever comes out of your utility bill over time can be put back into the local economy. The installation of solar panels creates new jobs within our community, which is fantastic. »

Elliott also said one of the benefits of solar panels is that once installed, they are generally low maintenance and don’t require many repairs.

VanLangen said Solarize Cville looks for certain criteria when evaluating a home’s viability for installing solar panels. These can include the age of the roof, whether the roof has a south-facing portion, the presence of chimneys and dormers, and tree cover.

But VanLangen said each case is very different, and different solar panel systems may be deemed best for different homes. This can include varying numbers of panels, or even installing panels in the floor instead of the roof.

Owners interested in the program and receiving a free solar satellite evaluation should register by June 30 at solarizeva.org/solarize-interest-form/.

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