The program virtually educated more than 521 residents about the benefits of solar and has commitments to install 80 solar arrays, 45 of those in Cook County.
For the second year in a row, the Solarize Chicagoland program surpassed its goal, achieving commitments to install more than 580 kilowatts (kW) of solar on 80 properties throughout the Chicago area, 45 of those located in Cook County. Led by the Citizens Utility Board and Midwest Renewable Energy Association, Cook County is a co-sponsor of the Solarize Chicagoland program, which teaches homeowners and small business the basics of solar, market trends, financials, how to participate in the program and ways to tell if a site is ready for solar.
Solarize Chicagoland makes solar more affordable and easier to attain for residents in Cook, Will, DuPage and Kane Counties through community education and discounts on solar photovoltaic systems through volume purchasing. The more people choose to install solar, the lower the price becomes for everyone. Price reductions took place once the group reached 50 kW with additional reductions occurring at 150 kW, 250 kW and ultimately at 500 kW, which this year’s group surpassed.
“We’re proud of the steps we’ve taken this year to make Cook County a more sustainable, eco-friendly place to live,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “But the credit is owed to our environmentally-conscious residents who have committed to making impactful changes in their everyday lives. These efforts will have lasting effects so future generations can enjoy a greener and healthier planet.”
This year’s program directly educated 521 residents about solar through 27 free, one-hour virtual informational sessions called Solar Power Hours.
“When the program launched this year, we didn’t know exactly what it would look like,” said CUB Environmental Outreach Coordinator Christina Uzzo. “While the solar industry experienced a slow down earlier this year due to COVID, we are happy that we could modify the program to take place virtually and still get solar information out to so many homeowners in the Chicago area.”
Based in Chicago, Windfree Solar was selected to install solar for program participants. During the first year of installation, Solarize Chicagoland’s solar arrays will offset emissions equivalent to approximately 550,000 pounds of coal burned. Collectively, customers will also save an estimated $79,000 in electric bills in the first year alone.
“Over the last couple years my husband and I have really been thinking about our energy usage,” said Cook County resident and participant Katie Aquino. “When we first moved into our house we installed a smart thermostat and last year we bought an electric vehicle. The fact that Windfree was a local company taking part in a local program was a selling point when we were deciding which company to go with.”
The 2020 program builds on last year’s successful program, which resulted in new solar systems on 124 properties totaling nearly 1,000 kW. In Cook County alone, 69 residents installed around 422 kW of solar through Solarize Chicagoland’s 2019 program.
“Navigating the solar market can be intimidating,” said Solar Program Director for the MREA Peter Murphy. “Educating residents on the benefits of solar and helping them determine if solar is the right choice for their families or businesses has always been our top priority.”
For more information on Solarize Chicagoland and to sign up for updates on future programs visit www.SolarizeChicagoland.com.
CUB is Illinois’ leading nonprofit utility watchdog. Created by the Illinois Legislature, CUB opened its doors in 1984 to represent the interests of residential and small-business utility customers. Since then, it has saved consumers more than $20 billion by helping block rate hikes, secure refunds, and fight for clean, low-cost energy. For more information, call CUB’s Consumer Hotline, 1-800-669-5556, or visit its website, www.CitizensUtilityBoard.org.
The MREA was incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit shortly after the first Energy Fair in 1990. MREA’s mission is to promote renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable living through education and demonstration. To learn more, call 715-592-6595 or visit www.midwestrenew.org.