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Solarize Bloomington Unable To Meet Demand For Panel Installations

close up of a solar panel

Photo: James Gray (WFIU/WTIU News)

A new law decreases the amount utility companies are required to pay for excess energy being produced by sources like rooftop solar panels.

Bloomington’s solar initiative is at capacity, leaving some people who signed up for a 2017 installation on hold until next year.

More than 250 people sent letters of intent to the Solarize Bloomington initiative, but solar contractors will only be able to fulfill about 25 of those contracts by the end of the year.

Bloomington Economic and Sustainable Development Director Alex Crowley says while some may be frustrated, there are still financial benefits to installing solar panels once they’re available.

“It’s really rough, and I understand people’s expectations were not met if they were not able to get their installation this year, but again, I would strongly encourage people to make that investment even if they’re installing next year,” he says.

In the first phase of the Solarize Bloomington project, the city coordinated all of the solar installations. For Phase 2, the city partnered with Solar Indiana Renewable Energy Network, or SIREN.

In a news release, officials from SIREN announced that six weeks into a second phase of solar panel installations, they were already oversubscribed.

The group credits the increased interest to several factors including a new law that passed earlier this year.

The law decreases the amount utility companies are required to pay for excess energy being produced by sources like rooftop solar panels.

If the panels are installed before December 31, they maintain their eligibility for higher reimbursement rates for 30 years.

Several solar initiatives across the state have encouraged Hoosiers to sign up for solar installations now before the rates change at the end of the year. Because of this, solar companies are faced with a high demand without the ability to supply to all of their customers.

Solarize Bloomington contracts out to the solar installation company Third Sun Solar.

Organizers are currently looking for a second contractor to fulfill more installations by the end of the year.

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