Extra workshop is last chance to get in on solar panel deal

So many people have been interested in a UO-sponsored rooftop solar panel offer that an additional workshop has been scheduled for those who want to get in on the deal.

The extra Solarize U meeting will be held Monday, Dec. 7, at 6 p.m. in Room 182 Lillis Hall. See the program website to register and for more details.

Solarize U is a program that allows UO employees and Eugene-Springfield residents to take advantage of a discount on rooftop solar panels through an expedited process that can have the power-generating panels installed in a fraction of the time it typically takes. But participants must attend a workshop where the program is explained in order to take part.

Four workshops in October and November drew packed houses, prompting the additional session to accommodate the interest, said UO sustainability director Steve Mital.

The program was created by the UO’s Office of Sustainability and managed by Northwest SEED, a nonprofit group that promotes clean energy in the Pacific Northwest. The group works with local solar panel installers to negotiate a group rate and develop a streamlined design and installation process and then offers a special deal to community members.

The workshops provide information on solar power, the installation process, tax incentives and costs. People learn if their house is a good candidate for solar, how it can lower energy costs and what their system and financing options are.

After the workshop, participants are paired with an installer, choose a solar panel system and get a single bid.  A group of four local solar contractors, taking part as the Eugene Solar Coalition, will do installations.

The one catch is that it’s a limited-time offer; people have to commit to a purchase by Jan. 21 to qualify. The federal tax incentive expires soon thereafter, making this an especially good time to act for those who have been considering solar.

With federal tax credits and state incentives, standard rooftop systems pay back in approximately six to nine years. After that, the equipment produces free solar power for another 20-25 years with minor maintenance.

And by participating in the Solarize program, property owners receive about $1,500, or 15 percent, off regular installation costs.

Northwest SEED has run similar programs in Washington that resulted in solar installations on 718 homes, creating a $17.5 million investment and 24 green jobs. It has run 11 campaigns and educated more than 3,000 people on the benefits of solar energy. The program is based in Seattle.

For more information, contact UO Sustainability Director Steve Mital at smital@uoregon.edu

—By Greg Bolt, Public Affairs Communications