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Projects Updates for Solar Urbana-Champaign

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  1. Urbana-Champaign Solar Group Buy Celebrates Another Successful Year

    Associated Project(s): 

    From: Marta Monti <marta@midwestrenew.org>
    Sent: Wednesday, April 13, 2022 10:05 AM
    To: jhoeflinger@gmail.com; Scott Tess <srtess@urbanaillinois.us>; White, Morgan <mbwhite at illinois.edu>; christina@faithinplace.org; Amanda Pankau <apankau@prairierivers.org>; alruedi@urbanaillinois.us; lawilcock@urbanaillinois.us; cjm@cityofmonticello.net; bamilton@piattfs.com; Dennis.Donaldson@savoy.illinois.gov; stacygloss@gmail.com; g-hazel@village.rantoul.il.us; jbustard@parkland.edu; kpfeifer@mahomet-il.gov; Paul.Storke@cityofdanville.org; nichole.millage@champaignil.gov; Kim Knowles <kknowles@prairierivers.org>; Andy Robinson <andrew.robinson.1980@gmail.com>; Cassie Carroll <casandcarroll@gmail.com>
    Cc: Taylor Ball <taylorb@midwestrenew.org>; Peter Murphy <peterm@midwestrenew.org>
    Subject: [THANK YOU!] Urbana-Champaign Solar Group Buy Celebrates Another Successful Year

     

    Hi everyone,

     

    Thank you for your support of the Grow Solar Urbana-Champaign program. It's been another successful program, with 16 properties decided to go solar, resulting in 120.12 kW of new renewable energy generating capacity in our region. We passed our 50 kW benchmark, resulting in an average household bulk buying discount of an additional $270.

     

    Final press release for the 2021 program, if you're interested and would like to share with your networks. If you are able to help circulate the press release, or the results, that would be great. Let me know what you need from me if you are going to share the press release!

     

    We have one final ask of you to help us wrap up the program: If you could be so kind as to fill out this program evaluation survey. The feedback you provide will help us continue to improve and facilitate more successful Grow Solar programs like this one. https://forms.gle/9MouKj8NKt3frqcP9 

     

    This program couldn't have happened without your support. So whether you went solar yourself (congratulations!), or represented one of the partnering municipalities, neighborhood associations, or organizations, whether you co-hosted a Solar Power Hour presentation, or simply helped spread the word about the program to your network, thank you!

     

    All the best, 

    Marta

     

    --

    Marta Monti, she/her/hers

    Solar Program Manager

    marta@midwestrenew.org

    414-988-7963

     

    Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA)

    3628 W Pierce St. Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53215

    www.midwestrenew.org

     

    Grow Solar in your community with help from our team. 
    Become a proud 
    member of the MREA.

  2. Archived Info - Previous Project Description

    Associated Project(s): 

    The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is helping to promote and encourage participation in the Solar Urbana-Champaign program. 

    The successful Solar Urbana-Champaign group purchasing program is available again in 2018. Since 2016, the program led to the installation of over 1 megawatt of solar on 138 properties across Champaign County. The program educated hundreds of individuals about solar and helped people save on solar through volume purchasing.
     
    In 2018 the program expands eligibility to Piatt County residents as well. And, thanks to new state legislation, even more people can get access to solar. To increase awareness across Champaign and Piatt Counties, Midwest Renewable Energy Association partnered with Champaign-based Prairie Rivers Network, which champions clean, healthy rivers and lakes and safe drinking water to benefit the people and wildlife of Illinois.

  3. Newsgazette Mailbag about campus renewables

    Renewable energy at the UI "How much power is each of the renewable (University of Illinois) sources generating? How many houses can each provide power for? Are there plans to add more than what we currently have? How many years does it take for the cost of each to be paid off? We have a growing interest in this and many homes now also have this."

    Morgan White, the UI's associate director of Facilities & Services for sustainability, has all your answers.

    As for power generation, she said that the UI's "on-campus solar arrays are now capable of producing over 25,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) per year and we purchase an additional 25,000 MWh/year from an off-campus wind farm in Illinois.

    "For a more comprehensive answer:

    "The (Illinois Climate Action Plan) 2020, objective 2.3.1 is: 'Use at least 140,000 MWh/year of clean power by FY25.' This objective is about clean power, which is different from clean thermal energy. As of 2020, there are three types of clean power options being pursued or used on campus.

    "1. Solar Energy on Campus: installing solar photovoltaic panels on campus property

    "2. Wind Energy on Campus: installing wind turbine generators on campus property

    "3. Power Purchase Agreements for Clean Energy: purchasing solar or wind power from off-campus

    "FYI, Solar Farm 2.0 is projected to produce 20,000,000 kWh/year. It began production at the end of January, so there will only be 5 of 12 months production in the FY21 totals (this current fiscal year)."

    As for the number of houses each can provide power for, White said, "At Facilities & Services, we use the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) for the average power use in an American home. It currently says, 'In 2019, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,649 kilowatthours (kWh).”

    "Thus, the FY20 clean power use on campus (30,635,993 kWh) was the equivalent of the power needed for 2,876 houses. Once Solar Farm 2.0 is operating for an entire year, that will be about 50,000,000 kWh/year of clean power use on campus, which is the equivalent to the power needed for 4,717 houses."

    And about whether more generation will be added, she said: "The recently released Illinois Climate Action Plan 2020 (iCAP 2020) includes a goal for increasing clean power use to 140,000 MWh/year by FY25. We are currently having internal discussions at the University of Illinois about initiating a large off-campus solar power purchase agreement to meet this goal. We are also continuing to pursue clean thermal energy solutions, such as geothermal. Additionally, large construction projects on campus are required by the state law to be LEED certified, and this will often entail the addition of clean energy systems for individual buildings."

    The payback period for each of these systems varies widely due to several factors, she said.

    "For example, the geothermal system for the Campus Instructional Facility is projected to pay for itself in 28 years, while Solar Farm 2.0 is saving money in year one," said White. "For local projects off-campus these programs are very helpful: the Solar Urbana-Champaign program typically finds solar installations to pay for themselves in six or seven years, and the Geothermal Urbana-Champaign program typically finds a geothermal system at a residential home can pay for itself within 10 years."

    https://www.news-gazette.com/toms-mailbag/toms-mailbag-feb-12-2021/artic...

  4. Local Solar projects shared at CCNet brownbag

    CCNet hosted several local solar panelists in January 2021. This Zoom meeting was also shared via Facebook Live:

    https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=429039901765435&ref=watch_permalink

    Join the CCNet mailing list to gain access to the Zoom and stay connected. http://eepurl.com/g8IM

    (video link corrected on 2-2-2021)

  5. Solar Urbana-Champaign 5.0

    Associated Project(s): 

    Affordable and Sustainable
    Solar Urbana Champaign is returning in 2020 with version 5.0! Offered by the City of Urbana, Prairie Rivers Network, and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, home and business owners throughout Champaign County, Piatt County, and Vermillion County may participate in this program to help pool their buying power to secure significant discounts that make installing solar more affordable. Go here to check for updates on solarurbanachampaign.com and announcements on our forthcoming, socially-distant Solar Urbana-Champaign 5.0 bulk solar energy purchase program. 

  6. Developing Local Solar Energy Resources

    Associated Project(s): 

    Join us for this seminar sponsored by local Master Naturalists. Scott R. Tess, the Sustainability & Resilience Officer for Urbana, will discuss City programming designed to develop local solar energy resources. Solar Urbana-Champaign is an ongoing program intended to both simplify the process and reduce the costs of purchasing and installing solar photovoltaic systems for homes and businesses. 

     

    February 17, 6:30–8 pm • U of I Extension, 801 Country Fair Dr. Champaign, IL 61821

     

    Amanda Christenson • Cooperative Extension Service

     

  7. Last Month for Bulk Solar Pricing

    Associated Project(s): 
    September is Final Month to Use Bulk Pricing for Solar

    Solar Urbana-Champaign 4.0 is scheduled to end new contract signings for solar installations on September 30 at 5pm.  That means you have just 3 weeks to schedule a site assessment with New Prairie Construction, receive a proposal, and sign a contract for your shiny new solar array. 

    Email 12 months of electric bills to solar@newprairieconstruction.com with the subject line "last minute solar proposal."

    If you've already received a proposal, then all you need to do is say YES to your very own renewable energy power plant.  And keep in mind that 2019 is the last year for the 30% federal tax credit.  It's 26% next year.

    Join the 200 other friends and neighbors in the Urbana-Champaign area that are enjoying a home or business running on sunshine courtesy of Solar Urbana-Champaign.
         

    Second Bulk Discount Achieved

    All Solar UC participants receive compounding 1% discounts off the purchase price of their solar installation as the program reaches 50 kilowatts, 150 kilowatts, and 250 kilowatts of contracted capacity.  The 2019 round of Solar UC currently stands at 151 kilowatts of contracted capacity!  So a 2% discount on all installations!
     

     


     edf3b33e-d7bc-419d-ad27-7bc5069578b6.png     

     

  8. Join your neighbors getting solar PVs!

    Associated Project(s): 

    Champaign and Piatt County home and business owners installing solar energy have triggered the second 1% discount in the Solar Urbana-Champaign program! The program makes it faster, easier, and more affordable to go solar by leveraging the power of volume purchasing, and a community-education campaign.

    https://mailchi.mp/urbanaillinois/announcement-solar-urbana-champaign-30...

  9. archived info - previous project description

    Associated Project(s): 

    The City of Urbana has partnered with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) and the Grow Solar Partnership to coordinate a second solar group buy in Champaign County, building on the success of Solar Urbana-Champaign, which took place from December 2015 through June of 2016. The advantage of a group buy is the power of volume purchasing, which can significantly reduce the up-front costs of installing solar on your home or business. You do not need to be a City of Urbana resident to participate – the group buy is open to all Champaign County residents and business owners.

  10. Now is your chance! Get solar at home or for your organization

    Associated Project(s): 

    Solar Urbana-Champaign bulk solar purchase program returns and expands in 2018
     
    The successful Solar Urbana-Champaign group purchasing program is available again in 2018. Since 2016, the program led to the installation of over 1 megawatt of solar on 138 properties across Champaign County. The program educated hundreds of individuals about solar and helped people save on solar through volume purchasing.
     
    In 2018 the program expands eligibility to Piatt County residents as well. And, thanks to new state legislation, even more people can get access to solar. To increase awareness across Champaign and Piatt Counties, Midwest Renewable Energy Association partnered with Champaign-based Prairie Rivers Network, which champions clean, healthy rivers and lakes and safe drinking water to benefit the people and wildlife of Illinois.
     
    “The electricity that has been produced by the 1,050 kW of solar the program contracted in 2016 and 2017 offset around 1.5 million lbs of CO2 being released into atmosphere in those systems’ first years,” said Scott Tess, Environmental Sustainability Manager at the City of Urbana. “That amount of solar energy will also save almost 20 million gallons of water from use in thermoelectric power plants that run on coal or natural gas.” The program is administered by the MREA at no cost to the cities or the counties. MREA has successfully implemented similar programs in other jurisdictions in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Bloomington-Normal, and elsewhere. 
     
    Solar Power Hours are free and open to the public. For the month of June, the following Solar Power Hours will be held:

    Additional Solar Power Hours are posted on the website
     

  11. Solar Urbana-Champaign 3.0 launches

    Associated Project(s): 

    Solar Urbana-Champaign is back with version 3.0! 

    • New options for renters, homeowners, commercial property owners, businesses, and farm owners.
    • Now available in Piatt County in addition to Champaign County.
    • Solar Power Hour presentations all summer long.
    • September 30 sign-up deadline.
    • Solar Power Hour kick-off events: Wednesday, May 16 in Urbana and Thursday, May 17 in Monticello (see below).

    The successful Solar Urbana-Champaign group purchasing program is available again in 2018. Since 2016, the program has led to the installation of over 1 megawatt of solar on 138 properties across Champaign County. The program has educated hundreds of individuals about solar and helped people save on solar through volume purchasing.
    Now, the program expands eligibility to Piatt County residents as well as Champaign County residents. And, thanks to new state legislation, even more people can get access to solar.
    Start by attending a Solar Power Hour (full calendar below). This free information session teaches you the basics of solar, its financial implications for your household, and how the solar group buy program works. Then, get a free, no obligation site assessment from the competitively selected solar installer for Solar Urbana-Champaign 3.0.
    This program was brought to you by the City of Urbana, Prairie Rivers Network, and the Midwest Renewable Energy Assocation. We welcome everyone to help spread the word!
    If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know by responding directly to this email. Shine on!

    - Peter

     

  12. Program finishes strong!

    Associated Project(s): 

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    October, 31, 2017

    Contact: peterm@midwestrenew.org

     

    Solar Urbana-Champaign Bulk Solar Purchase Program Finishes Strong

    Claire Johnson and Jill Houser have just finished installing solar panels on Andy Robinson’s roof as part of the Solar Urbana-Champaign 2.0 program. They are  members of New Prairie Construction’s solar installation team, and part of a mostly female crew. They and other teams from New Prairie Construction will be installing 446.95 kilowatts of solar on 58 properties across Champaign County as a result of the program, which helped people save on solar through volume purchasing. Robinson not only went solar through the program, he also helped to lead it.

    “I’ve thought solar was a cool way to reduce our carbon footprint ever since seeing the 2007 UI solar decathlon house in DC, but it also needed to make financial sense for our family,” said Robinson, who was hired by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) to facilitate the education sessions, called “Solar Power Hours,” for the program. “Now we will offset nearly all of our electric use and it was a good financial investment.  New Prairie laid out the panels on the front and back roof in a way that looks like it is a part of the design of our 1920 house. We were especially happy to meet the diverse install crew of local women and men, and a highly qualified refugee.”

    “In the 1980’s, Jill and I got our start in construction through the woman-owned company Working Women Construction,” said Julie Birdwell, owner of New Prairie Construction. “When we started New Prairie Construction, we made a commitment to providing opportunities for women. We never regretted it. Our New Prairie women contribute more than just diversity. They help contribute to a positive work culture and maintain a high level of attention to detail and craftsmanship.”

    “When we think about the benefits of solar energy, we often picture environmental benefits, of which there are of course many,” said Peter Murphy, Solar Program Manager at Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA). “But what often gets overlooked is the growing number of solar jobs, which are local and by nature cannot be outsourced.”

    “One out of every 50 new jobs added in the United States in 2016 was created by the solar industry, representing 2% percent of all new jobs,” according to The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit organization that conducts a national solar jobs census.

    “We recently had an opportunity to hire an Afghan national who worked in construction for the US military in Afghanistan,” said Birdwell. “Hiring such a refugee is a way of acknowledging the risks and sacrifices he and his family have made to support our country. In addition, he and our other employees from different cultures and countries provide positive contributions to our work culture, and we feel, our overall product.”

    “In the first day of solar production, our kids said that we were vacuuming with sunshine,” said Robinson. “And they are right.”

    “The electricity produced by the 446 kW of solar the program has contracted will offset around 639,035 lbs of CO2 being released into atmosphere in the first year alone,” said Scott Tess, Environmental Sustainability Manager at the City of Urbana. “That amount of solar energy will also save almost 10 million gallons of water from use in thermoelectric power plants that run on coal or natural gas.”

    The program was administered by the MREA at no cost to the city or the county. MREA has successfully implemented similar programs in other jurisdictions in Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin as seen in Milwaukee, Cedar Rapids, Bloomington-Normal, and elsewhere. Solarize programs have taken place all over the country, from California to Maine.

    "The solar branch of New Prairie Construction Co. is a natural extension of our commitment to providing high quality, environmentally responsible solutions for homes and businesses," says Julie Birdwell, co-owner of New Prairie. "Solar Urbana-Champaign 2.0 provides an excellent opportunity for our community to use the power of bulk purchasing to get premium quality installations for a great price.  We are excited to work with our neighbors to help increase sustainability and energy independence in Champaign County."

    MREA issued a request for proposals to solar installers in January. A local advisory committee reviewed proposals based on professional certification, experience, and cost. They selected New Prairie Construction Co., based in Urbana. They were chosen as the solar installer for the second Solar Group Buy because of their high-quality solar installations, building science expertise, and emphasis on customer service.

    ###

    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.TheEnergyFair.org or www.midwestrenew.org.

  13. Phase Two Rates - UC Solar

    The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) has accepted the Solar Urbana-Champaign Advisory Committee’s recommendation and contracted with New Prairie Construction to install solar arrays for the second round of our group buy program.  MREA and New Prairie Construction have agreed to an amended fee schedule whereby New Prairie will be providing a rebate which will be paid to program participants who sign a contract for services by August 31, 2017 according to the following schedule: $.03/watt if the program reaches 50-150 kW of total capacity; $.06/watt for 150-250 kW; $.09/watt for installed capacity in excess of 250 kW. 

    Please keep an eye on solarurbanachampaign.com for more info.

  14. Pricing Breaks for higher quantities

    Associated Project(s): 

    Hi Solar UC Advisory Committee,

    The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) has accepted the Solar Urbana-Champaign Advisory Committee’s recommendation and contracted with New Prairie Construction to install solar arrays for the second round of our group buy program.  MREA and New Prairie Construction have agreed to an amended fee schedule whereby New Prairie will be providing a rebate which will be paid to program participants who sign a contract for services by August 31, 2017 according to the following schedule: $.03/watt if the program reaches 50-150 kW of total capacity; $.06/watt for 150-250 kW; $.09/watt for installed capacity in excess of 250 kW. 

    Please keep an eye on solarurbanachampaign.com as we will be announcing Solar Power Hours very soon.  Please share these event announcements through your networks and let us know of any ideas for additional public engagement.

    Thanks!

    Scott

     

    Scott R. Tess

    Environmental Sustainability Manager

    City of Urbana, IL

    P: 217-384-2381   -   F: 217-819-3167

    706 S. Glover Ave. Urbana, IL 61802

    Walk Score®61 out of 100

    Bike Routeswww.urbanaillinois.us/bike-urbana

    Plan Your Bus Triphttp://www.cumtd.com or 384-8188

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