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Solarize Chicagoland program enters second year
Anastasia Tuskey
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Solarize Chicagoland program enters second year

The Solarize Chicagoland program returns in 2020 after surpassing its goals last summer. Solarize Chicagoland educates home and small-business owners about solar and offers an opportunity to secure discounts on solar photovoltaic systems through volume purchasing. The program is led by two nonprofit organizations, Citizens Utility Board of Illinois (CUB) and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA), with support from four Chicagoland counties: Cook, DuPage, Kane, and Will.

The Solar Power Hours in Will County will be held via Zoom from noon until 1:00 p.m. on Monday, June 15 and 6:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. on Monday, July 6. To register, visit the website: www.growsolar.org/chicagoland/

In 2019, the program achieved commitments to install nearly 1,000 kilowatts (kW) of solar on over 120 properties in the Chicago area. CUB and MREA are launching the Solarize Chicagoland 2020 solar group-buy program this week, and the program’s participation deadline is Sept. 30.

In their first year of operation, Solarize Chicagoland’s solar arrays will offset the emissions equivalent of approximately 800,000 pounds of coal burned. Collectively, customers will also save an estimated $98,300 in electric bills in the first year alone.

Lisa Gerhold, a leader with the Elmhurst Cool Cities Coalition, went solar through the program and also helped spread the word through two events in her community.

“In addition to the good pricing, we liked the fact that the installer had been vetted ahead of time,” said Gerhold.

Solarize Chicagoland uses the power of volume purchasing to make solar more accessible and affordable for home, business and farm owners in Cook, DuPage, Kane and Will Counties.

“Even though COVID-19 has shaken up many things, it is still our mission to educate residents about this year's program,” said Christina Snitko, Will County Energy and Conservation Specialist. “Serving the people of Will County still remains a top priority.

Navigating the solar market can be intimidating, creating barriers for solar adoption. To help break down those barriers, the program will directly educate residents about solar through 25 free, public, one-hour informational webinars called Solar Power Hours.

“Beyond the 120 people who went solar, more than 900 people attended Solar Power Hours last year. That’s 900 people who are now informed solar shoppers,” said Christina Uzzo, CUB environmental outreach coordinator.

"Over the past few months, an increasing number of households have been both working and schooling from home,” said Peter Murphy, MREA Solar Program Director. “Home energy use is now a budget concern for both households and businesses and a properly designed and installed solar electric system can effectively turn the expense into an investment return."

To view the Solar Power Hour schedule and learn more visit www.SolarizeChicagoland.com.

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CUB represents the interests of residential and small-business utility customers and has saved consumers more than $20 billion by helping to block rate hikes, secure refunds and fight for clean, low-cost energy. For more information, call CUB’s Hotline, (800) 669-5556, or visit 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.

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