You’ve probably heard of solar power and
solar panels, but have you heard about what people are doing to Solarize? In 2017, 104 homeowners in Linn County Iowa
used group buying power to negotiate significant savings on installing solar panels. Known as a solar group buy or Solarize program,
this market driven model is growing across the Midwest. Eric Holthaus: We hadn’t done this before,
so I was surprised there was so much interest. We had over 20 educational sessions for people
to come to and learn about solar. We had 483 people attend. We got organizations from all over the County
to help us out: Linn County, the City of Cedar Rapids, The Nature Conservancy, Indian Creek
Nature Center, Iowa 350. The interest was there, and we just provided
a venue for it. Once again, we blew past our expectations,
so we were excited to see that many people interested in solar – that many people decide
it was a good decision for their family, for their home. The program generated over 1.5 million dollars
in local investments and over 600 kilowatts of clean solar energy, almost double the original
goal. Byron Tabor: I have always thought that it
was very cool, but now it is getting to the point that it is actually worth it, a financially
viable alternative, so it’s just great, there is a lot of energy just floating around here
and we just got to catch it! At no cost to the city or county, solar group
buys work through grassroots educational sessions that teach community members about solar,
it’s cost and benefits, and how the group buy program works. Tom Wieseler: It’s not that complicated of
a process when you look at it, it’s an opportunity to share information, educated costumers with
the intent to get more and more people to sign on to buying residential solar and the
more people that do sign on, the incentive is that the price will get driven down. That not only made them feel good in their
pocket book but made them feel good in their heart…that they are doing the right thing
here for nature and the planet, so it’s a pretty neat program.

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