Nonprofit explains benefits of solar for home, business owners

ANDERSON — As the price of solar panels has fallen by more than 70 percent, installing rooftop panels is becoming increasingly affordable for average families and business owners.

Despite recent setbacks, including a slow phase-out of net metering in the state passed last year and recently enacted tariffs on foreign-made solar panels, local nonprofit Solarize East Central Indiana is working to help Anderson residents find out whether solar is right for them.

Solarize ECI is hosting a free informative session at 6 p.m. Monday in the Miami Room at the Anderson Public Library to introduce homeowners and business owners to the economic and environmental benefits to personal rooftop solar.

The organization works with a dedicated installer which, because the group purchases in bulk, offers about a 20 percent savings over walk-in prices.

Co-founder of the East Central Indiana group John Vann said while it’s still a significant investment, payment plans or home improvement loans allow homeowners to find an affordable way to pay off the panels in under 10 years while reaping the benefits for three decades or longer.

“It’s still expensive … like buying an inexpensive new car,” Vann said. “But we just had someone send us a screenshot today of their power bill, and they paid $7.80 for the month — which was just the standard fee for having a meter.”

Homeowners can also save on costs through a 30 percent federal tax credit as well as a higher grandfathered-in rate for excess energy sold back to the utility company through net metering.

For businesses, the savings are even greater, Vann said, because they get all the benefits of residents as well as an accelerated depreciation schedule which allows them to pay off the solar installation in as little as a year.

“It really is a great time to get into solar,” Vann said.

After the group’s informational meeting, Solarize ECI will help anyone interested in installing solar panels get in contact with a pre-selected solar installation company, which offers special rates for people sent through Solarize ECI.

The company will also do a free home visit to decide whether solar is right for the location and provide quotes. There is no charge unless the person decides to install.

For Vann, Solarize ECI is a way to help people find an affordable way to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

“That is a positive reinforcement of what we are doing,” Vann said. “But I tell you, having a $7.80 bill, that’s not bad either.”

Solarize East Central Indiana

What: Informational meeting

When: Monday 6 p.m.

Where: Miami Room, Anderson Public Library, 111 E 12th St, Anderson

Cost: Free

Source: http://www.heraldbulletin.com/news/local_news/nonprofit-explains-benefits-of-solar-for-home-business-owners/article_c1a75e02-0d60-5fee-8adc-a827e13bcc77.html