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New program will help solar shine locally

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Center for the Environment
An innovative solar program designed to help individuals and businesses save on electricity costs will be available to residents of Salisbury, Rowan County and the surrounding area beginning Oct. 2 until the end of the year.
A community celebration to launch Solarize Salisbury-Rowan will be held from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday at Lee Street Theatre. Refreshments and live music by Life Size will be the highlight of the event, where local and national organizers will outline the Solarize program. All interested homeowners and business owners are welcome to attend.
Solarize Salisbury-Rowan is a community initiative designed to inform residents of the advantages of solar power for their homes and businesses and to reduce costs through competitive bids by pre-approved installers, thereby streamlining the process. It is a partnership between SmartPower, a national non-profit organization focusing on clean energy, and the Center for the Environment at Catawba College.
Expectations of success are high for Solarize Salisbury-Rowan since North Carolina boasts a 35 percent state tax incentive in addition to the 30 percent federal tax credit — making solar a smart investment and a proven way to lower energy bills. However, the tax incentives will soon expire, so officials counsel residents who are interested in installing a solar power system to act soon.
Over the next 25 years, an average resident can be expected to pay about $36,000 in electricity bills. With solar costing only around $9,000, this investment would save a homeowner about $25,000 on electricity bills during that period. A no-money-down loan affords residents and business owners the opportunity to purchase solar with no up-front costs, yet will still save thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the solar energy system.
When customers go onto the Solarize Salisbury-Rowan website, they will be linked to an online “solar marketplace” that has pre-screened and qualified local installers to participate in the program. By visiting the site they can learn how much their home or businesses will save by going solar. From there, they can decide if they want quotes from participating North Carolina installers. When they are satisfied with the quote, they may ask installers to make on-site assessments, which will provide a more precise solar system recommendation.
“If you’ve ever thought about looking into solar power, this is the time to do it,” says Brian F. Keane, president of SmartPower, the nonprofit organization that is running Solarize Salisbury-Rowan. “Through our award-winning, on-the-ground outreach, combined with our online ‘solar marketplace,’ we think Solarize Salisbury-Rowan will break new records and become a new leader in residential solar adoption.”
Dr. John Wear, Center for the Environment executive director, notes that the campaign provides numerous benefits to the community and its residents.
“We’re creating a solar community market for area citizens and business owners, much like a farmers’ market,” he says. “It’s a community service that will save people money and help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels at the same time.”
Solarize Salisbury-Rowan is available to all Rowan County residents, as well as others who live in the region, beginning Oct. 2 through Dec. 31. “Time is running out because the tax incentives will soon expire,” says Lane Wallace, Solarize Salisbury-Rowan’s community outreach manager. “Now is the time to act.”
For more information about the program, contact Lane Wallace at lwallace@smartpower.org or call 704-637-4727 or visit www.SolarizeSalisbury-Rowan.com.

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