New program helps Bay View residents go solar

CREATED May 5, 2014

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MILWAUKEE  – Buying in bulk is going solar!  And while going green may seem like an expensive option, the new Solar Bay View Group Buy Program is trying to make it easier and cheaper for residents and businesses to use solar panels for power.

“I got my electric bill for last month, my electric bill for the month of April was $14,” Paula Papanek tells TODAY’S TMJ4’s Jesse Ritka.  Papanek now has 30 solar panels converting sunshine into energy and savings, “Once you do it's like wow, this is so cool, every month!”

And the Midwest Renewable Energy Association and the City of Milwaukee’s solar program Milwaukee Shines want more people to start saving with solar like Paula is.
A pilot program in Riverwest was so successful last year that they created Solar Bay View to spread the solar benefits of buying in bulk. 

“We help connect with installers, and the education and awareness and then we also provide a solar loan program because there is an upfront cost to solar and even though there's a return on investment, less than 10 years on your solar installation, there's still that barrier, still that obstacle of finding the financing,” Amy Heart, Solar Program Manager for the City of Milwaukee tells Ritka.

If you get the low-interest solar loan or just pay upfront, the program could save up to a thousand dollars based on how many people join, the higher the number, the greater the discount.

Milwaukee Office Director for the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, Elizabeth Hittman, continues explaining how the program saves time on researching reputable resources since they eliminate searching for the right type of panel, qualified installers and cut down on time spend getting installation quotes.  

“We kind of try to make it as easy for the homeowner as possible because it is a little daunting if you want to install solar, where do I begin and what’s typical costs and who's a qualified installer so we try to do all that work for them,” Hittman adds.

Because as Paula found out, starting at solar square one can be a dark, dead-end, “It was really overwhelming so that really delayed my whole process so by doing this group buy, the installer's already been selected and so the installation we're doing is already cheaper than what I did a year ago.”

There are two more information sessions at the Bay View Library: Saturday, May 10th at 11am and Tuesday, May 20th at 6pm.