The sun is shining for homeowners, business owners and farmers in Jefferson and Waukesha Counties, as the Grow Solar Jefferson and Waukesha Counties program has reached its first goal of 50 collective kilowatts (kW) of new solar energy projects.

The program allows individual home and commercial property owners to access competitive prices for solar installations through the power of volume purchasing, including a limited time rebate.

By the program’s end, rebates could range from around $350 to around $1,400 for the average system size of 7kW, depending on participation. As more properties sign up, the volume rebate increases. The 50 kW goal results in an average rebate of about $350 per property.

“We felt that it was important to work with an installer that had a strong track record, and a local presence,” said Steve Tesmer of Fort Atkinson, whose solar installation helped the group reach its first goal. “The fact that MREA (Midwest Renewable Energy Association) has thoroughly vetted the installers was a major factor in our decision. The savings we will realize due to the group purchase is also important to us.”

The program is coordinated by the Waukesha County Green Team, Heart of the City/Fort Atkinson, and Midwest Renewable Energy Association. Through a competitive selection process, a local advisory committee chose All Energy Solar, which has offices in Madison, as the program’s solar installer.

“While we are still in an early phase of the project, so far we have found MREA and All Energy to be extremely helpful and easy to work with,” said Tesmer.

Group purchase programs provide residents and businesses with the opportunity to invest in high-quality, renewable energy solar installations, while also helping reach sustainability goals. In similar programs, estimated first-year savings on utility bills have ranged from $690 to more than $1,000, depending on the size of the array.

“For many, solar is the easiest way to take control of energy bills, defend against future rate increases from our investor-owned utility We Energies, build equity, and lower your carbon footprint in a financially responsible way,” said Peter Murphy, Solar Program director for the Midwest Renewable Energy Association. “This program makes it easier to do those things and helps people understand whether solar will work for them.”

Through September, the program will provide free, one-hour-long educational sessions for members of the public. These “Solar Power Hours” are webinars and will provide prospective participants with information about how solar energy works. Representatives of the program also will be on hand to answer questions.

The program’s website, JeffersonWaukesha.GrowSolar.org, features a signup form on which area residents and business owners can elect to receive an estimate or general program updates and Solar Power Hour announcements.

The program is administered by the MREA at no cost to the communities. This type of program has been successful in other Wisconsin communities including Milwaukee, Dane, Portage and Sauk Counties. An active Grow Solar program also is being offered in Milwaukee County.

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