State Director, Environment Georgia
State Director, Environment Georgia
Despite Federal Tariffs Coalition Promises to Deliver Cheap and Easy Solar via Bulk Purchasing Program
Atlanta, GA—A coalition has convened around launching Atlanta’s first community-based Solarize program to encourage solar power adoption through bulk purchasing. The program has already set sign-up records despite being months away from an official launch. Over 200 potential new solar customers have signed-up on the coalitions website SolarizeAtl.com. The Solarize Atlanta coalition includes non-profits City of Refuge, Environment Georgia, Georgia Interfaith Power and Light, Livable Buckhead the Sierra Club, Southface, and the US Green Building Council (USGBC). Central Atlanta Progress, as well as Atlanta’s Office of Resiliency and the for-profit Solar Crowdsource, are also coalition members.
“The Solarize model has successfully tripled solar in previous communities like Athens and Savannah in just a few short months,” said Jennette Gayer, Environment Georgia Executive Director. “Now, we’ve had more pre-registrations than any solarize campaign in the state, and we look forward to this program breaking all sorts of standards.”
Solarize Atlanta is gearing up as President Trump has announced plans to impose tariffs on some imported solar panels, a move which industry experts predict will increase the price of solar.
“The good news is the price increases will impact the residential and commercial solar markets the least,” said Don Moreland, CEO of Solar Crowdsource, which has served as the platform for numerous Community Solarize programs in Georgia. “Rooftop solar, which will be most relevant in Atlanta, will likely not see as big an impact as utility-scale solar,” he explained. “We also think this will make Solarize Atlanta that much more important—we’ll navigate the world of fluctuating prices for you and find the best system for the best price.”
Solarize programs create savings for participants by negotiating a tiered pricing schedule that drops the price of solar as more people in the community participate. By educating and energizing a single community for a short period of time the coalition can pass along the savings that an installer gets by ordering in bulk and spending less time tracking down customers.
“There should be a solar panel in every neighborhood, on every house of worship, on every warehouse in Atlanta,” said Rev. Kate McGregor Mosley, Executive Director of Georgia Interfaith Power and Light. “We are dedicated to figuring out how all entities can participate in Solarize Atlanta.”
Solarize Atlanta will include a concerted effort to involve commercial properties. Central Atlanta Progress, Livable Buckhead, and the USGBC bring expertise from Atlanta’s Better Buildings Challenge and see real opportunity in the city’s many commercial roofs.
“When we heard about Solarize Atlanta taking shape, we were excited to get on board and help expand its reach to the commercial sector,” said Denise Starling, Executive Director of Livable Buckhead. “We have been working with commercial properties in Buckhead to improve their environmental performance for years. Adding solar into the mix is a logical next step, and an exciting opportunity for Buckhead.”
City of Atlanta’s Office of Resiliency is a key partner in the effort and has already helped get things off on the right foot by streamlining the city’s solar permitting process. “Rooftop solar is going to be a key part of the City’s 100% clean and renewable energy plan,” said Stephanie Stuckey, Atlanta’s Chief Resilience Officer. “Solarize Atlanta makes solar straightforward and easy for our residents,” she adds. “What’s not to like?”
To date, Solarize Atlanta has held one public meeting for the residential program asking for input on how to prioritize different facets of the campaign when interviewing solar installers. Another public meeting geared toward commercial customers is coming up on February 2. Those unable to attend a public meeting but wishing to contribute ideas can take the survey at SolarizeAtl.com.
“We need to know what Atlantans prioritize,” said Ted Terry, Director of the Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club. “For example, are you really interested in a battery system, or an extended warranty, or do you want an installer who will pledge to hire from the local community?”
Next steps include synthesizing feedback, choosing solar installers for Solarize Atlanta’s commercial and residential programs and formally launching the solar evaluation and install part of the process in April. City of Atlanta residents can pre-register at SolarizeAtl.com.