Coming soon: SUN for All!
Solar for All is partnering with Prosperity Indiana and SIREN to bring solarize initiatives to multiple Indiana cities. This joint project, known as SUN for All, will assure homeowners of low prices for high-quality solar installations, AND provide panels for low- and moderate- income households.
If you would like to participate as a homeowner, contractor, or volunteer, please contact us today!
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Monroe County Solar for All (SFA) is a plan for quickly ramping up photovoltaic (PV) installations in Bloomington and Monroe County, Indiana. All households, businesses, and other organizations are eligible to participate and benefit from the bulk purchase discounts SFA/SIREN negotiates, but a major objective is to make solar power financially accessible to those who otherwise could not afford to “Go Solar.” The program emphasizes increasing energy efficiency, building community, using renewable energy and creating resilience.
The price of solar installations in Monroe County has dropped dramatically in recent years, in-part due to SIREN’s outreach and homeowner education, yet many people with fixed or limited income still cannot afford to buy in, and may not qualify for the federal renewable energy tax credit. These are often people who are the most vulnerable to inevitable electricity price increases. Enabling installations of solar PV systems for people with fixed or limited incomes will allow them some level of energy independence and economic savings.
This program will also offer opportunities for people to develop skills in home weatherization, solar installation, and roof repair, possibly leading to new employment opportunities. Meanwhile, people who may currently not feel invested in climate activism will be invited to the table in a concrete way that benefits both their household and the community–an exchange of energy that builds connection and increases our resilience.
For homeowners interested in residential solar power, there will be two ways to participate: “Self-pay participants” are those who are interested in a group-buy purchase and installation of a solar system and want to get a better price than they could get on their own. They also qualify for the 30% federal renewable energy tax credit. “Assisted-pay participants” qualify for assistance from SFA on a sliding scale, based on their overall financial situation.
SIREN and others interested in rapid uptake of renewable energy in Monroe County will negotiate a price for bulk solar installations. Economies of scale will enable that price to 1) be below the average price for this area (i.e. a discount for Self-pay participants), 2) fairly compensate the solar contractor(s), AND 3) cover the expenses of a percentage of additional solar hardware/equipment (bought at a discount due to the high volume purchase). That extra equipment will be donated by the contractor(s) to SFA for use with Assisted-pay participants.
For qualified households, labor costs will be significantly reduced through a sweat-equity plus volunteer program. Volunteers will be trained to do tasks associated with home energy audits, solar assessments, roof assessments, weatherization, roof repair, and solar panel installation; additional volunteer opportunities will be available in coordinating the above activities with SFA. Assisted-pay participants will be required to provide a number of volunteer hours for the program, proportional to the benefits received.
Remaining costs associated with installing PV systems will be paid for through a combination of some or all of the following: low-interest loans, subsidies from SFA, “sweat equity,” a down payment, and monthly payments. The exact mix of payment methods will be determined by participants’ financial situation, ability to contribute volunteer hours, and other relevant factors.
Donations are welcome from individuals and organizations interested in renewable energy, community resilience, and economic equality.
Several existing community organizations that offer relevant services and models for this work have expressed their support of SFA. These organizations include the Office of Sustainability for the City of Bloomington, SSCAP, Earth Care, ICEY (Interfaith Community of Environmentalist Youth), the Green Sanctuary Task Force of the Unitarian Universalist Church, and SIREN (Solar Indiana Renewable Energy Network).
The Solar For All Program Coordinators are Stephanie Kimball and Pam Warren.