CEDAR RAPIDS — Linn County residents who’ve pondered the idea of installing solar panels on their home or business soon could find the idea much more appealing.
That’s thanks to a recently announced partnership between Cedar Rapids, Linn County, the Nature Conservancy, Indian Creek Nature Center and advocacy group Iowa 350 that allows participants to invest in individual solar installations — with bulk solar price savings.
The program debuted this month.
Through a contract between the group and North Liberty’s Moxie Solar, the price of individual solar projects will drop as more participants join the Solarize Cedar Rapids and Linn County program, with customers saving on every kilowatt produced.
“The solar installer commits to this price structure. As everybody — homes, businesses, farms, sign contracts — those are all aggregated, so as we reach certain milestones in total solar ... every one of those milestones results in a price reduction for all participants,” said Eric Holthaus, Cedar Rapids sustainability coordinator.
Holthaus said the program, which will be the first of its kind in Iowa, is administered by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association at no cost to the city or county.
Holthaus said Moxie Solar essentially will price all solar arrays in the program as a single project, with the cost savings associated with a larger project spread out among all participants.
“Everybody is going to have a different need, different ability to put solar on their roof,” said Chris Hoffman, Moxie Solar’s business developer. “Every single one of these projects will be individualized and the savings will go to those people directly.”
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The base price of a solar array purchased through the Solarize program will be $2.45 per watt, MREA’s Solar Program Manager Peter Murphy said in an email. That base price could dip as low as $2.25 per watt, if enough customers participate, he said.
The regional average base price per watt for Midwest solar projects is around $3.50 per watt, Murphy added.
As part of the program, Moxie Solar will provide free site assessments to interested residents to determine what sort of array could work on their home or business. Participants have until Sept. 30 to sign up for the program.
The Solarize group also plans to host more than one dozen public meetings — dubbed Solar Power Hours — across the county to learn more about the program. The first meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Cedar Rapids Public Library’s Beems A meeting room, 450 Fifth Ave. SE.
“I think first and foremost we’re educating and getting more people to understand the benefits of solar, this is something we as a company deal with everyday,” Hoffman said.
In addition to promoting clean energy and providing residents with easier access to solar power, James Hodina, Linn County’s manager of environmental health, said the program aligns with the community’s public health goals.
“We have an outdoor air quality program, we monitor our ambient air and we do a lot of regulatory programs under the Clean Air Act to ensure we have healthy air to breath in the community,” Hodina said. “A lot of these renewable energy programs ... are going to help us reduce our air emissions within our county.”
Solar Power hours
Solarize Cedar Rapids and Linn County will host free public information meetings, dubbed Solar Power Hours, across the county.
Anyone interested in exploring solar for their home, business or not-for-profit can get a free site assessment before Sept. 30.
Solarize Cedar Rapids and Linn County expect to add more public meetings during the summer.
Upcoming Solar Power Hour meetings:
• 6:30 p.m. June 13 at Cedar Rapids Downtown Library, Beems A, 450 Fifth Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids
• 6 p.m. June 20 at Center Point High School Library, 145 Iowa St., Center Point
• 6:30 p.m. June 21 at Lowe Park’s Oak Room, 4500 N. Tenth Street, Marion
• 6 p.m. June 22 at Prairie High School, 401 76th Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids
• 6:30 p.m. June 27 at Mount Vernon City Hall, 213 First St. NW, Mount Vernon
• 6 p.m. June 28 at Indian Creek Nature Center, 5300 Otis Road SE, Cedar Rapids
• 6 p.m. July 11 at Hy-Vee, 5050 Edgewood Road NE, Cedar Rapids
• 6:30 p.m. July 13 at The Geonetric Building, 415 12th Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids
• 6 p.m. July 18 at Palo City Hall, 2800 Hollenbeck Road, Palo
• 6:30 p.m. July 19 at University of Iowa Community Credit Union, 2340 Edgewood Road SW, Cedar Rapids
• 6:30 p.m. July 26 at PCI Medical Pavilion, Community Room, 202 10th Street SE, Cedar Rapids
• 6 p.m. July 31 at Falcon Civic Center, 137 N. Fourth Street, Central City
• 6 p.m. Aug. 2 at Indian Creek Nature Center, 5300 Otis Road SE, Cedar Rapids
• 7:30 p.m. Aug. 3 at Lion Bridge Brewing, 59 16th Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids
• 6 p.m. Aug. 10 at Prairiewoods, 120 Boyson Road, Hiawatha
• 6:30 p.m. Aug. 14 at Cedar Rapids Downtown Library, Beems A, 450 Fifth Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids
• 6:30 p.m. Aug. 17 at Kirkwood Community College, Linn County Regional Center, 1770 Boyson Road, Hiawatha
• 6:30 p.m. Sept. 7 at Mount Vernon City Hall, 213 First St. NW, Mount Vernon