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Solarize Indiana Coordinator, Brent Hutchison, speaks to residents about solar energy at an information session held Thursday.

Solarize Indiana, a non-profit aimed at speeding the transition to solar energy, invited residents to attend an information session held Thursday.

“We're really trying to give a proactive solution that people can actually do and make a difference,” said Brent Hutchison, Solarize Indiana Coordinator.

At the session, Lafayette resident August Mathisrud talked about Solarize Indiana and shared his own experience with the 9.6 kilowatt solar array on his roof that powers his home and two electric cars.

Solarize Indiana seeks to help residents, businesses and churches install solar systems. It does this by addressing the main barriers to solar energy — lack of information, upfront cost and distrust of solar installers.

Ed Chambers, a resident of Lafayette, was one of the people at the event who already had solar on the roof of his home.

“My wife and I have both been extremely satisfied with our decision,” Chambers said. “Our system provides virtually all of our electrical needs at the house, and even allows us to charge electric hybrid plug in car at home, and paying practically nothing month by month for our electric bill.”

Chambers calculated that he saved over 1,000 lbs of CO2 emissions a month, without including the emissions from gasoline which he saved by driving his hybrid vehicle. For $2.70, roughly the same price as a gallon of gas, Chamber was able to drive his electric vehicle 342 miles.

The topic of financial savings and return on investment was a main concern for those in attendance at the information session.

According Solarize Indiana, the return on a solar investment is 6 to 9%, which is high compared to other investments. Hutchison said that by not going solar you aren’t going to see any return on investment, in fact, you are likely to continue to pay more as energy prices go up.

Recently, Duke Energy has explored raising rates by 19% for residents, which equates to about a 21$ a month increase, according to reporting by the IndyStar.

“I like the idea of reducing my carbon footprint. I like the idea of not being completely dependent on Duke,” said Rebecca Peters, a West Lafayette resident who attended the information session. “I'm concerned about what Dukes plans are (for) raising the rates. So I'm interested in it. I'm a little concerned about the upfront cost.”

According to Solarize Indiana, residents can expect to pay about $13,000-14,000 for a 5 KW system. After the 26% Federal Solar Tax Credit, the actual price paid by residents would be $9,800-10,000.

If residents want to know exactly how much a solar installation would cost, they can fill out a letter of interest with Solarize Indiana who will guide residents through the process as well as connect them with a vetted solar installer and negotiated prices.

For councilor elect Kathy Packer, her interest stretched beyond just the residential solar systems.

“I'm interested in all green technology for both for my home use and also to see what the city can do,” she said.” Because I just think it's important that everybody take the climate crisis seriously and do what we can on a personal and a community level to slow it down.”

According to the Mathirud, solar installations become carbon neutral after about two years of use, the time it takes to generate enough carbon free electricity to offset the manufacturing and installation emissions.

Solar is already one of the ways that the City of West Lafayette is working to meet the emission reduction goals of the climate resolution the city council passed in December, Parker said. She said there are plans to put solar on the new Wellness Center and on the new city hall building.

Solarize Indiana plans to hold another information session on Jan. 9,2020, as well as participate in the West Lafayette Climate Resiliency Clinic happening Jan. 10.


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