Solarize Portland

Solarize Portland The Solarize Portland project hopes to help Portland residents overcome the logistical hurdles of going solar powered at home = Who to hire? What to buy? What to budget? Where to start? With Solarize Portland, interested neighbors are joining forces to conquer the pick, purchase and install process as a team.

Originally crafted by someone from SE Uplift (Tim) and someone from the Mt. Tabor Neighborhood Association (Stephanie) the first iteration of the Solarize Portland project quickly expanded to become a partnership between several SE Portland neighborhoods and the SE Uplift Neighborhood Sustainability Program. The first Solarize Portland project (launched June 6, 2009 and closed September 15, 2009) mainly focused on homes in Southeast Portland. But we learned very quickly that the interest and excitement around going solar at home exists city-wide. Which is why Solarize Portland isn’t going away — we are growing and changing to help people all across the city solarize their homes.

The City of Portland (or, one of its bureaus known as the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability) has offered to support Solarize Portland’s cause so it won’t just be Tim, Lizzie and Stephanie keeping this thing going anymore. Whew. Now any community group interested in helping its members go solar can organize a Solarize Portland project with some great support from the folks at the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

If you want to invest in a solar electric system of some kind for your home but aren’t sure who to hire or what to buy or where to start — start here, with your neighbors, through a Solarize Portland project. As a project participant, you’ll work out the details as a group and realize a great bulk-purchasing benefit. For a list of Solarize Portland projects currently underway, visit our join page. If you don’t see a project that fits your community of choice (maybe you’d like to bring the project to your office?) and you’d like to coordinate one yourself, then give Lee Rahr at the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability a call (503-823-7581) or email her and find out what it takes. If you were a participant in the first Solarize Portland project, and you’re looking for an update on how things are going (they’re GRAND!) you can visit our join page for that information, too. Eventually, all information about Solarize Portland projects will be found on the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability website; so please don’t be alarmed if one day you come to visit us and are redirected there.

It’s a DEAL. Now is your chance to go solar.

As it turns out, there are a number of excellent resources dedicated to helping Portlanders go solar powered and there is a shocking amount of money available to make such an endeavor financially feasible.

Thanks to incentive funding from the Energy Trust of Oregon coupled with State and Federal tax credits, Portland residents looking to bring solar electric systems to their homes can expect to have 80% of the costs covered by someone else. Isn’t that kind of like getting an 80% OFF coupon? *There are restrictions on these incentives, but in general they apply to the typical residential solar system installed by an approved contractor.

How the Solarize Portland Project Works:

There is no fee associated with the Solarize Portland project. And, no commitment (at least not until Step 7, below). But, if we stick together we can share research, streamline the process, cut through the red tape, and realize some bulk-purchasing benefits. Here’s how a Solarize Portland project works:

1) A group of people get together who want to invest in solar electric systems for their homes.
2) They get educated with FREE workshops offered by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.
3) They work with an Energy Trust approved, State “tax credit certified” solar contractor chosen by the project coordinators. This contractor will install solar panels for all participants, which will quite likely mean participants receive a bulk-purchasing benefit/price break.
4) Participants receive their own FREE solar site-assessment with the contractor. You will learn a lot from this visit, including how big a system you can get and how much the options will cost. Don’t be shocked by the price tag you see at this point (it will likely be between $9,000 and $30,000 – this is size dependent). Remember, incentives and tax credits can pay for up to 80% of the bill, bringing your cost into the $500 – $7500 range.
5) Participants get together and talk about their site-assessments. You’ll field questions and share answers. It will be like a support group.
6) Each participant decides for themselves whether to buy, or not. No obligation until Step 7.
7) Each participant signs his/her own contract with the chosen contractor – this contractor will coordinate equipment purchases and the install schedule so as to conserve resources.
8) Installs happen. Inspections happen to make sure everything is as it should be. The group just might throw a party or something to celebrate!
9) Everyone gets the appropriate signatures needed, and the right paperwork for the State and Federal Tax Credits. And, they graduate!

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