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What do you need to know about the group-buy program to get in on the deals! 

StraightUp Solar was chosen for the third time as the installer for the Grow Solar Bloomington-Normal group-buy program, previously titled Solar Bloomington-Normal.

What is Grow Solar Bloomington-Normal? 

The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit who hosts solar group buys, or “Grow Solar” programs around the Midwest. The MREA’s mission is to promote energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainable living through education and demonstration, and Grow Solar programs fulfill that mission on the community scale. In a Grow Solar program, the MREA partners with community groups to encourage local home and business owners to consider going solar. In the Bloomington-Normal case, anyone within McLean County is eligible to participate in the Grow Solar Bloomington-Normal program, which will run from May-September 2019. The MREA and their local community partner, the Ecology Action Center (EAC), put together a request for proposals for solar companies to respond to in early 2019. They then choose the solar company that will service the program from this competitive bid process.

The goal of the competitive bidding process in a Grow Solar program is to get the highest quality solar installer, delivering the lowest cost solar array for the best value – the best bang for your buck.The Grow Solar program brings down the price of solar energy for everyone because of the economies of scale. Additionally, there are rebates for customers if the community installs enough solar to meet specific benchmark goals.

Rebates? Yes, Rebates!

There are three benchmarks the McLean County community can strive to hit in terms of installed KiloWatts (kW) of solar energy, which gives the customer extra returns in the form of rebates. These benchmarks are set at 50 kW (7-10 homes worth of solar) 150 kW (21-30 homes), and 250 kW (35-50 homes) installed. For every benchmark that is achieved, 1% of the total project costs will be paid back to the customer via a check from StraightUp Solar.  For example, if the community collectively installs 150 kW, 2% of the total project costs will be returned to the customer.

If the community reaches a stretch goal of 350 kW, StraightUp Solar will create a $10/kW donation fund (from all kW above the 250 kW threshold) towards a solar project for low income community members. StraightUp Solar will also match the donation value. We are excited to allow those community members that normally would not have access to solar the chance to have their own solar array and to receive the benefits of solar energy.

I Know Nothing About Solar, but Have Been Thinking About It for Awhile

Do not worry, we’ve got you covered. Grow Solar Bloomington-Normal offers free Solar Power Hours to the community, which are 60-minute educational presentations designed to give you all of the information you need to determine whether solar might be a good fit for your home or business. You can find the schedule for those presentations here:

Additional Incentives to Go Solar!

Shockingly, there are even more incentives to go solar, in addition to the Grow Solar group-buy discount and extra volume rebate savings. These include existing solar incentives offered by the federal government and the state of Illinois.

The federal government offers a 30% tax credit for solar energy, which can be taken at the full 30% value in 2019 for the last time – before it steps down to 26% in 2020 and eventually sunsets to 0%. Essentially, what this means is that 30% of your total project costs can be credited to your taxes so you do not owe the government that money. Talk to your tax professional as to how this will impact you because everyone is different.

The second is an Illinois solar incentive. The public utilities, Ameren and ComEd, are required to get to 25% of their energy from renewable energy by 2025, and to get that they are buying the right to claim clean energy production via a system of Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs). For every 1,000 kiloWatt-hours (kWh) of energy your system produces, you create one SREC that can be sold to the utilities so that they can meet their renewable energy goals. They want to buy your anticipated clean energy for 15 years. We will calculate the amount, sell your SRECs to the Illinois Power Agency, and then you will get a check in the mail because you are helping develop solar power in Illinois. Pretty cool, right?!

Ready, set, go!

This is a great time to go solar, and we are so excited to be able to serve our community of Bloomington-Normal as your trusted local solar installer. Let’s get ready for an exciting summer and let the race to the benchmarks begin! Visit Grow Solar Bloomington-Normal, plan to attend an upcoming Solar Power Hour, and sign up for a free solar quote!