By Theodosia Wade, Sustainable Newton Vice President
Well, this was going to be a final post to wrap up our Solarize Newton-Morgan campaign and tell you all the wonderful things we accomplished with some great local and statewide partners. More on that further down in this post, but first the really big news:
Last week, we reported potential good news in Covington, and now it's official. The Covington City Council voted Monday night to reduce the city’s standby capacity fee for customers with residential solar!!!! This addresses a substantial roadblock discouraging many Covington residents who wanted to install solar during our campaign. So, the Solarize Newton-Morgan Campaign is open again for business in Covington. Residential customers have until the end of November to request a free solar evaluation of their property, with signed contracts due by the end of December. To sign up or to learn more, visit the campaign website.
This gives customers who purchase their power through the City of Covington the chance to take advantage of bulk purchasing prices for solar and the federal tax credit for 2020. Thanks so much to Mayor Johnston and the City Council for supporting clean, renewable energy options for our community!
Now, about this past year…
It’s hard to believe this time last year was our big launch at the Georgia Wildlife Federation for Solarize Newton-Morgan -- a campaign to bring solar energy to our community at a bulk rate so folks could actually consider putting panels on their homes. Teaching Environmental Science at Oxford College for the last years of my career really made me think about what I could do to reduce my carbon footprint. My husband Billy and I decided this campaign would be a great opportunity to do just that. And -- by generating our own energy from solar -- to reduce the impact of rate hikes from our electric company as new reactors at Plant Vogtle come on-line. I get such satisfaction launching my SolarEdge App to see how much energy our 12 panels are producing and how much CO2 emissions we are offsetting. The app even lets us know how the solar energy produced would relate to the number of trees planted.
In the year since our launch, Solarize Newton-Morgan has accomplished so much: 229 folks in our community signed up on the Solarize website and have received information about solar energy and how it works. Sixteen residents signed contracts and installed a combined total of 85 kW of solar energy on their homes at a price they would not have been able to obtain on their own. Plus, they also benefited by a 30% federal tax credit for their investment. That 85 kW of solar is avoiding the annual release of 159,460 lbs of CO2, a major greenhouse gas. According to the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalency Calculator, this is the same as the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by 1,196 tree seedlings grown for 10 years or 15.4 passenger vehicles driven for one year.
In addition to helping folks add solar panels to their property, we worked with the Oxford and Covington City Councils to make solar more economically feasible for homeowners. The City Council of Oxford removed their solar stand by fee in April, and the City of Covington reduced their fee substantially this month for those wishing to add a 6kW system or less. These are steps in the right direction to pave the way for future solar projects in our community.
We could not have accomplished all of this without our partners. The solarize Georgia group (Georgia Interfaith Power and Light, Environment Georgia, and Solar CrowdSource) had the experience and blueprint for running successful solarize campaigns around the state. They ran very successful campaigns in Athens, Carrollton, Dunwoody and Atlanta and we were excited to add Newton-Morgan to the list. Our local partners (Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority, Smart Growth Newton County, the Oxford Organic Farm and the Madison-Morgan Conservancy) were crucial to spreading the word about this opportunity for our community. They helped us secure spots to speak at civic clubs, churches and professional organizations in addition to helping us man booths at festivals and events around the Newton/Morgan area where we could talk to homeowners about the benefits of adding solar to their homes. Last but not least, we are thankful for Alternative Energy Southeast (AES), the solar installation company chosen for our campaign. They were with us every step of the way, helping with presentations, dragging solar panels out to festivals, answering questions about equipment and installation. All of this in addition to providing free solar evaluations and bulk pricing for those joining the campaign. We have met so many people in our community who have been so supportive of moving us all toward clean, renewable energy! Thanks to each of you!