Government

Johnson County Solarize program reaches milestone

Dan Tyne, a technician with Nelson Electric of Cedar Rapids, installs solar panels on the roof of Indian Creek Nature Center in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, August 31, 2016. Nelson subcontracted with Alliant Energy, which owns the solar panels, for the installation. The new building, dubbed the
Dan Tyne, a technician with Nelson Electric of Cedar Rapids, installs solar panels on the roof of Indian Creek Nature Center in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, August 31, 2016. Nelson subcontracted with Alliant Energy, which owns the solar panels, for the installation. The new building, dubbed the "Amazing Space" by nature center administrators, is due to open in a soft launch on Tuesday, September 6, with a grand opening weekend planned for September 15-18. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Johnson County’s Solarize program has reached its first milestone with 50 kilowatts of local solar power investment.

Officials with the program say the cost of solar installations will drop at each milestone, with future bench marks set at 150 kW, 250 kW and 350 kW.

“We’re already about halfway toward that next bench mark,” said Becky Soglin, Johnson County sustainability coordinator. “It’s been really gratifying to see the interest.”

The program incentivizes private solar development through volume purchasing prices. Essentially, the more people participate, the cheaper the installations become.

So far about 10 customers have signed up for the program, Soglin said.

Like Linn County’s Solarize program, the first of its kind in the state, Johnson County’s program is administered by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association.

The Cedar Rapids and Linn County Solarize program ended with about 607 kilowatts of solar energy added to 105 properties.

Linn County officials estimated that Solarize customers will save more than $70,000 on utility costs in their first year. About 1 million pounds of CO2 and 280,000 gallons of water annually will be offset by the new solar production, rather than fossil fuel generated electricity, officials have said.

Those looking to learn more about Johnson County’s Solarize program can attend one of the remaining free information meetings, dubbed Solar Power Hours, across the county.

Solar Power Hours

l — June 23, 11:30 a.m. — Iowa City Senior Center, assembly room 28, 28 S. Linn St., Iowa City

l — June 26, 6:30 p.m. — Swisher Public Library, 72 Second St. SW., Swisher

l — June 27, 6:30 p.m. — West Branch Public Library, 200 N. Downey St., West Branch

l — July 11, 6:30 p.m. — Solon Public Library, 320 W. Main St., Solon

l July 18, 6:30 p.m. — Hills Community Center, 110 Main St., Hills

l July 19, 6:30 p.m. — Cafe Muse, 565 Cameron Way, $108, North Liberty

l July 31, 6:30 p.m. — Iowa City Public Library, meeting room A, 123 S. Linn St., Iowa City

l August 2, 6:30 p.m. — Johnson County Health and Human Services Building, room 203 B-C, 855 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City

l Comments: (319) 398-8309; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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