UPDATE: Solarize project continues to grow in Linn County

Deadline to participate is Sept. 30

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Public interest continues to grow for an effort to incentivize private solar development through volume purchasing prices.

James Hodina, environmental services manager with Linn County Public Health, said a total of 34 area residents had contracted for a combined 232 kilowatts of solar power as of Aug. 31 through the Solarize Cedar Rapids and Linn County program.

That puts the program — which reached the first goal in July — beyond the second tier of 150 kW and near the third goal of 250 kW.

“We’re quickly approaching our next tier,” Hodina said. “We’re very happy, we’re doing very well.”

Hodina said with each benchmark — 50 kW, 150 kW, 250 kW and 350 kW of total solar generation — customers see an additional five cents per watt of savings on installation costs.

The Solarize program, which debuted in June, is administered by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association at no cost to the city or county.

Individuals interested in participating in the program have until Sept. 30 to sign up. All solar projects contracted through the program will be installed by the end of the year, Hodina said.

The program has hosted more than a dozen educational presentations, dubbed Solar Power Hours, across the county.

“Our emphasis is education,” Peter Murphy, solar program manager at Midwest Renewable Energy Association, said in an August news release. “Solar isn’t a future technology anymore. It’s happening today.

“The more we can do to clear up misconceptions and help people understand how it works and the costs involved, the better.”

One Power Hour remains, at 6:30 p.m., Sept. 7, at Mount Vernon City Hall, 213 First St. NW.

Hodina said turnout at events has been strong.

“People are really making an effort to get out there and get the information,” he said.

The program has received support from the city of Cedar Rapids, Linn County, the not-for-profit Nature Conservancy, Indian Creek Nature Center and climate change awareness group Iowa 350.

l Comments: (319) 339-3175; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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