Solar power sign-up set for april 18 local news times-georgian.com gas bubble in eye

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Solarize Carrollton-Carroll is a collaborative effort run by local residents, nonprofits and for-profit enterprises in the community who see solar energy as an opportunity to have an inexhaustible source of clean and renewable energy in the county. It held a town hall meeting in January to determine whether solar energy would be supported and wanted in the community. The steering committee was surprised by the turnout that was so large some people could not fit in the room.

Hannes Gerhardt, director of the Center for Sustainability at the University of West Georgia, said at that meeting that solar makes up 1.2 percent of the energy in Georgia. He suggested the goal for Carrollton and the county should be to create a solarize campaign in which groups buy in bulk. The larger the group, he said, the lower price of the system — as much as 20 percent.

“They wanted us to consider system quality because they wanted to know that what they are buying is a good brand or quality,” Hindman said. “Second was pricing. The community said the cost is a concern. They are not looking for the cheapest system but at the same time they would like us to pay attention to the pricing.”

Two weeks ago the steering committee conducted interviews with what the community had in mind, and it narrowed the search to four companies. The four companies talked to the steering committee about their plans and why they believe solar energy is important.

“This is not just an example of a group of people coming together for a good cause but really this is people coming together to reduce the price of solar within our community to an affordable cost,” said Wojcik. “This will be an investment to individuals, organizations, and businesses.”

The University of West Georgia is committed to partnering with our host community to advance our mutual interest in a more sustainable Carrollton and Carroll County,” said UWG Campus Planning and Facilities Associate Vice President Brendan Bowen. “The Solarize Carrollton-Carroll initiative allows us to work with local residents, business partners, students, and our faculty and staff as we build a vision for a more sustainable future.”

Gerhardt said that as director of sustainability at UWG, he has been interested in solar power for a long time. It’s Gerhardt’s conviction that solar needs to be a much larger part of the energy plans in the 21st century in order to realize the goals of clean energy and energy independence.

“The great thing about expanding solar is that households can be a driving force,” he said. “In Germany, most of their significant solar capacity comes from rooftop solar panels. With Solarize-Carroll we are offering residents right here to adopt solar for their homes and businesses.”

Gerhardt said the beauty of this campaign was that the price for the solar system installation goes down the more people participate. In the end, Gerhardt said that Solarize-Carroll offers significant savings for anyone that wants to be a part of the energy solution by going solar.

“The best part is that you won’t just be contributing clean energy to your house and the grid, but in the long run, you will be saving money,” he said. “There is no telling where energy prices will go, but with unfinished nuclear power plants and a booming global demand for limited natural gas, it is almost certain prices won’t do down. If you go solar, it won’t matter; in 15 to 20 years, you’ll still be generating most of your energy right from the roof of your house.”

Having used solar energy on her farm for seven years, Crager said her energy bill has been cut in half because the solar panels run the electricity on her farm. Crager was also excited to see the Solarize Carrollton-Carroll mission receive a positive reaction because she is considering solar panel shingles for her house.

“Our mission is to bring more solar energy systems to the Carrollton-Carroll County area,” Hindman said. “By purchasing as a group, homeowners and businesses in this area can save on the cost of solar – the more that participate, the greater the savings.”

“We are very excited about our next launch event, April 18, at 6:30 p.m. at the UWG nursing building,” Hindman said. “Everyone is invited to come and everyone will be able to meet our selected contractor, Creative Solar USA, and ask questions, find out more about how the program works and sign up for a free evaluation.”