On Earth Day, Grow Solar Metro East launched the fifth year of its group-buy program. The program strives to educate Metro East homeowners, businesses, and nonprofits on the benefits of solar power, while providing an opportunity to buy lower-cost solar installations through the power of bulk purchasing.
Lewis and Clark College and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, in partnership with volunteers from the Glen Carbon Cool Cities Committee and Sierra Club Piasa Palisades, are supporting the program throughout Madison, St. Clair, Monroe, and Calhoun counties.
“Our team of volunteers is excited to offer this program again to Metro East residents and businesses and to Calhoun County further north where there has been some growing interest,â€ť said Kevin McKee, of Troy, a program volunteer. â€śAs environmentalists we like to think that most people want solar power because it reduces pollution. But we know that price still matters, and that’s why we work to bring this program to the area.”
Interest in solar power has grown rapidly in the Metro east. Overall, the program has helped 175 home and business owners install solar power since 2016. Virginia Woulfe-Beile of Godfrey helps lead the program.
“My husband and I took advantage of the Solarize Godfrey group buy and have had our rooftop array on line since October of 2016,â€ť she said. â€śOur system offsets approximately 90 percent of our electricity charges. We are seeing real savings on our Ameren bill and receiving solar renewable energy credits as well.”
Kathi Beyer, a village of Hamburg trustee in Calhoun County, learned of Grow Solar Metro East through a Sierra Club member. During a Village Board meeting, she found there was interest in a solar system for the village and additional interest among other villages and residents throughout the county.
â€śElectric bills are high and people are looking for solutions,â€ť Beyer said. â€śThis is a great program to be part of if you are interested in going solar.â€ť
Hamburg Mayor Eric Benoist said he is also interested in solar for his home.
â€śThis seems like a good opportunity for Calhoun villages and residents to take advantage of a group buy to reduce costs of going solarâ€ť he said. â€śThe long-term savings look great.â€ť
Grow Solar Metro East provides free hourlong webinars via Zoom for members of the public. These Solar Power Hours explain how solar energy works, the financial costs and incentives, how solar group buy programs are effective, and where to get started in the solar installation process. Register for these or other free Solar Power Hour presentations here.
The programâ€™s website includes a sign-up form where area residents and business owners can elect to receive an estimate or general program updates and Solar Power Hour announcements.
The MREA has facilitated 34 similar bulk purchase programs in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa, resulting in more than 1,600 solar installations at reduced cost.
Every year, the Grow Solar Metro East advisory committee selects a solar contractor for the program through a competitive proposal process. The proposals are reviewed by the committee for professional certifications, experience and price to bring the best service to the program. This year the committee chose St. Louis-based StraightUp Solar.