Solar group buy program hits first benchmark in Central Wisconsin
For the Gazette
Ten customers have already committed to purchasing solar electric systems, triggering the first round of rebates for its participants.
CUSTER — A popular solar group purchasing program for central Wisconsin home and business owners is back for round three, and is already seeing early success.
The “Grow Solar Central Wisconsin” group buy program has already hit its first benchmark of solar installations shortly after a soft launch during The 30th Anniversary Energy Fair held in late June. Nick Hylla, Executive Director of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) is excited that the consumer education program already has such strong participation.
“We launched the program in late June and by mid-July we hit our first benchmark of 50 kW of solar contracted through the program. This means the average participant will now receive a $500 rebate on their purchase,” explains Hylla. “Our public education sessions start in early August and the sign-up deadline is mid-October. Seeing this level of interest so early in the program is really promising.”
The program’s goal is to help home and business owners in central Wisconsin define the economic potential of solar electric system investment for their property. For interested consumers, the program uses educational outreach paired with a competitive contractor bidding process and group purchasing power to maximize cost savings, and streamline the solar process for participants.
The program advisory committee selected North Wind Renewable Energy Coop to serve the program again this year.
“The Grow Solar Central WI Group Buy program provides an opportunity for local residents to make an already solid investment in solar, even stronger.” said Jordan Kaiser from North Wind. “North Wind provides full design and installation of grid-tied and battery backup solar power systems for both residential and commercial customers. Together with the MREA, we look to build on the past success of Grow Solar Central WI and make 2019 the best solar group buy yet.”
This is the third installment of the Grow Solar Central Wisconsin program to support continued investment in solar energy by community members throughout the region. In 2018 the program helped 40 homes and businesses go solar through the program, and the 2019 effort is expected to surpass those numbers. MREA and partners see the program as a way to build resilient communities that are powered by locally-produced solar electricity, and help participants save on their monthly utility bills.
The program sets benchmarks along the way, and once those benchmarks are met, more rebates are triggered for all program participants, making the cost per system even more affordable. In addition to lower system prices through the bulk purchasing model, this is the last year that participants investing in solar can take advantage of the full (30%) federal solar investment income tax credit which reduces at the end of this year.
To date, the program has 12 signed contracts from participants, totaling 75 kW of clean solar energy to be installed. All participants will now receive a minimum rebate of $.05 per watt on their systems. The next benchmark is set at 100 kW, in which a rebate of $.10 per watt will be triggered for all participants. The maximum rebate is $.15 per watt and would result in a $1,500 rebate for the average participant. The deadline for interested parties to sign contracts is October 15.
Navigating the solar market can be intimidating so MREA and partners are hosting a series of free ‘Solar Power Hour’ information sessions to provide resources and answer questions. Attendees will learn the basics of solar, its financial implications, and how the Solar Central Wisconsin Group Buy Program works. Interested attendees can register for a free, no obligation site assessment from the competitively-selected solar installer, North Wind Renewable Energy Cooperative.
MREA has been leading Solar Group Buy programs across the Midwest since 2014. The programs have resulted in over 650 solar installations in 5 different states. Interested residents and businesses throughout Lincoln, Marathon, Portage, and Wood counties have until October 15th to participate in the Solar Central Wisconsin Group Buy program.
The next Solar Power Hour presentation is set for Saturday, August 10, at Central Waters Brewing Co. at 351 Allen St, Amherst, from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. For the full list of upcoming Solar Power Hour information sessions visit www.cwsolar.org.