The Daily Iowan

Solarize Johnson County surpasses target in final month

Solar+panels+are+seen+outside+of+the+Johnson+County+Administration+Building+on+April+23%2C+2018.+%28Katina+Zentz%2FThe+Daily+Iowan%29
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Solarize Johnson County surpasses target in final month

Solar panels are seen outside of the Johnson County Administration Building on April 23, 2018. (Katina Zentz/The Daily Iowan)

Solar panels are seen outside of the Johnson County Administration Building on April 23, 2018. (Katina Zentz/The Daily Iowan)

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Katin

Solar panels are seen outside of the Johnson County Administration Building on April 23, 2018. (Katina Zentz/The Daily Iowan)

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Katin

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Katin

Solar panels are seen outside of the Johnson County Administration Building on April 23, 2018. (Katina Zentz/The Daily Iowan)

Julia Poska, [email protected]

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Residents of Johnson County have committed to install more than 350 collective kilowatts of solar panels to their residences, maximizing their discount as this summer’s Solarize Johnson County Program enters its final month.

The program offers residents of Johnson County and West Branch savings on solar-panel installation via a county-hosted group buy. The discount has increased as more residents have committed to installing a few kilowatts each, reaching targets of 50, 150, 250, and 350 total kilowatts.

“Reaching the fourth and final benchmark shows that people are really eager to add renewables to their homes,” said Becky Soglin, the county’s sustainability coordinator.

As of 10 a.m. July 30, Soglin said 50 households had committed to installing 356 kilowatts. She said all but three of Johnson County’s 11 towns have at least one household represented.

They should save approximately 20 cents per watt, or about $1,200 to $1,400 for the average home solar array of between 6 and 7 kilowatts.

The county has hosted “Solar Power Hours” on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the summer to inform residents about the program and connect them with Moxie Solar, the program’s official installer.

The final two Power Hours will take place on July 31 in the Iowa City Public Library and Aug. 2 at the Johnson County Health and Human Services Building, both at 6:30 p.m. Interested households must commit to the program by Aug. 31 to receive the group-buy discount.

Soglin called the response to the program “tremendous” and said those who have so far committed to going solar will help the community for years to come by generating clean energy.

Chris Hoffman, business developer for Moxie Solar, said the company has been in touch with approximately 200 households. He estimated that 40 percent of those who have not yet committed likely will by the end of August.

“A lot of people wait and see how the momentum builds,” he said. “But I think they’ll be excited to see these results.”

Hoffman said all participants will receive the maximum discount, regardless of when they signed up. Moxie intends to complete all installations by the end of the year.

MidAmerican Energy, a major provider in Johnson County, generates more than half of its energy cleanly and plans on providing 100 percent clean energy by 2020. Hoffman said he makes sure every MidAmerican customer interested in going solar understands that if their primary motivation is environmental, they are already mostly there.

RELATED: MidAmerican plans to reach 100 percent renewable energy

He said most have other incentives as well.

“They’re doing it because others in their community are doing it,” he said. “They want to be part of something big.”

Besides the group discount, households in Iowa receive state and federal tax credits of 15 and 30 percent, respectively. Solar-powered homes save on utility bills as well, eventually returning on the initial investment of installation.

Larry Weber, the executive associate dean of the UI College of Engineering, recently installed a 7.15 kilowatt solar system on his home in rural Johnson County near Iowa City through the solarize program.

He said the group-buy discount was nice, but the tax credit was more important to him. He said he was also motivated to reduce his carbon footprint with clean energy.

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