This week Chicago really kicked off its Solar Chicago program, a partnership between the city, The Vote Solar Initiative and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The program uses group purchasing to reduce the cost of going solar by more than 25 percent of the average cost, according to Vote Solar, which is coordinating the effort through its Go Solar campaign.
“The city is participating in this program to help homeowners pool their buying power to secure significant discounts that make installing solar on your home more affordable than ever,” WWF said. “Solar Chicago simplifies the process of researching and choosing a solar provider, making it easy for you to save money and produce clean renewable energy.”
The organizations vetted numerous solar companies and ultimately chose Juhl Renewable Energy Systems and Microgrid Solar as Solar Chicago's installation partners. They agreed to pass along the savings from reduced marketing costs and bulk purchasing to Solar Chicago. That means that solar arrays for consumers who go solar through the program will start at $3.49 per-watt, according to Go Solar. Both Ailey Solar and Kapital Electric will help support Juhl and Microgrid in installing the arrays.
At that price a residential 3.5 kilowatt array would cost as little as $12,215, the cost of a relatively inexpensive new vehicle. However, there’s also the 30 percent Investment Tax Credit offered by the government, which would reduce the costs by $3664.50 making the array cost $8,550.50.
The partners will also offer an incentive rebate based on how many kilowatts are installed through the group purchasing plan. If at least 100 kilowatts are installed through the offering participants will receive a rebate of 15 cents per installed watt. For a 3.5 kilowatt solar array that equals $525. That figure rises to 30 cents per watt if more than 400 kilowatts are installed through the program. At the higher level a 3.5 kilowatt array would give the system owner a $1,050 rebate.
“Residents of Chicago, Franklin Park, Hanover Park, Oak Park and Wilmette will pay $3.49 per watt,” wrote The Chicago Tribune’s Julie Wernau. “Installations outside the program area will carry an upcharge of up to 30 cents more per watt, according to Vote Solar.” lower that cost by another 30 percent, lowering the price to $7,329. At the same time, the program is offering further solar rebates if the program successfully encourages more than 100 kilowatts of installations.
Though the program has just launched (the partners were announced on Monday) already roughly 500 people have signed up out of the 750 required to meet the initial goal. It looks like that will happen as the offering runs through Sept. 30, 2014.
Solar Chicago also partnered with Admirals Bank. Through the bank residents and businesses can qualify for loan options to finance the arrays. Admirals has developed a line of loan products specifically for the renewable energy sector.
The initiative also compliments the recent law signed by Gov. Pat Quinn (D). That law requires the Illinois Power Agency (IPA) to use up to $30 million of funds collected for the purchase of renewables to purchase solar power to meet the state’s energy needs. It previously couldn’t use the money because of a quirk in existing law. However, the state already is making some great strides towards being a clean energy leader.Tweet