1 of 2
(From left) Emma Gilmore of StraightUp Solar, homeowner Mark Stewart and the Godfrey Climate Protection and Energy Efficiency Committee Chair Nate Keener share a moment during the installation of Stewart’s solar system.
2 of 2
Solar installation crew members install solar panels on Stewart’s roof. The installation typically takes 2 to 3 days.
GODFREY — The village was electric with excitement this week, as Mark and Audrey Stewart became the first residents to have their home outfitted with solar panels as part of the Solarize Godfrey program.
The couple’s system will produce more than 12,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity and offset approximately 19,000 pounds of carbon dioxide and 4,000 gallons of water each year.
“I think it’s positive Godfrey was able to get involved with something like this,” Mark Stewart said. “I went solar to save money and free my house from the electric utility. It is a bonus that this is an environmentally friendly way of powering my home.”
The Godfrey Climate Protection and Energy Efficiency (Cool Cities) Committee launched the Solarize Godfrey program in April. It aims to increase local solar energy education and offer residents the opportunity to pool their purchasing power, thereby saving money on solar installations.
The village is partnering with St. Louis-based StraightUp Solar to bring the program to residents. By using this program, participants purchase the solar systems 15 percent below market rate.
Emma Gilmore, a solar project developer with the company, said she credits Nate Keener, chair of the Godfrey Climate Protection and Energy Efficiency Committee, and all of Godfrey with making this partnership a reality.
“Nate and his committee were really a huge driver of this program,” she said. “I can’t say enough about the self-generated interest in Godfrey. That’s why we decided to go all in and offer our best price in the area.”
In addition to the discount price offered to residents, state and federal incentives can help people buy solar systems.
The village is further sweetening the pot by providing an additional incentive for commercial properties in the Godfrey business district. Those businesses can receive a reimbursement of material costs for solar renewable energy of up to $3,000.
“People should participate because with all the state, local and federal incentives it’s the perfect time to go solar,” Keener said. “Also, it’s a great way for us to band together and combat climate change.”
“With the community-wide discounts and everything, it just looked like this would be the time to (go solar),” Stewart, who is also the chair of the Finance Committee in Godfrey, added. “There might not be a better time to do it.”
The more people who participate in the program, the further the prices will drop, providing another benefit to customers. Rebates of 1, 2 and 3 percent kick in when the program hits 25, 50 and 75 kilowatts of installed solar energy, respectively. Twenty-five kilowatts is roughly the equivalent of 3 to 4 typical home solar energy systems.
The solar systems are under warranty for 25 years, but many last longer, according to Gilmore.
Gilmore said StraightUp Solar, which has installed 550 solar systems in the area in 10 years, recently began its first company-wide rebate and is excited for more to follow.
Those interested in participating in the program must first attend a free solar information session called a solar power hour. Participants will learn about solar technology, costs and financing and the affordability of solar energy through the Solarize Godfrey program for residents and businesses.
“In one hour, (potential customers) can get the benefit of the amount of information that would take them days, if not weeks, to research,” Gilmore said.
The next solar information session will be at noon Wednesday, Aug. 3, at Godfrey Village Hall for a brown bag lunch presentation. Future meetings will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 23, at Village Hall and 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8, at the Lewis and Clark Community College Reid Café Lounge.
Everyone who attends an information session will receive a free solar site assessment and customized quote with the special bulk pricing from StraightUp Solar. The installation of the solar systems typically takes 2 to 3 days, and the company will handle the permit paperwork.
“It’s really meant to be as easy as it can be,” Gilmore said. “It’s all the time we hope homeowners and businesses need to invest to go solar. Then, they can enjoy the benefits for the next 25-plus years.”
The Solarize Godfrey program is available through Sept. 30, at which point pricing returns to its regular rates. For more information, visit straightupsolar.com/solarize-godfrey or contact Godfrey Clerk Pam Whisler at (618) 466-3381 or firstname.lastname@example.org.