Solar panels. A group has been formed to purchase panels in bulk to save money. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Solar panel plan expands



MOUNT DESERT — A Climate to Thrive has launched Solarize MDI, a solar initiative for everyone who lives or works on Mount Desert Island. Beginning April 15, residents and businesses in the towns of Mount Desert, Bar Harbor, Tremont and Southwest Harbor will be able to participate in a group purchasing program to reduce installation costs for grid-tied solar electric installations.

Solarize MDI aims to increase adoption of small-scale solar electricity at homes and businesses through a competitive-tiered pricing structure. Savings for all participants increase as more home and business owners sign installation contracts before July 15. The more participants, the bigger the available discount, with potential average household installation savings of $1,500 in addition to a 30 percent federal tax credit. Solar projects will be designed and installed by ReVision Energy of Liberty beginning this spring.

“Every year, MDI spends more than $60 million on energy costs, most of which is exported to out-of-state fossil fuel producers,” said Gary Friedmann, chair of A Climate to Thrive. “With the cost of solar panels dropping 40 percent last year, there’s never been a better time to go photovoltaic – to save real money on monthly bills and take MDI another step toward energy independence.”

In addition to net-energy billing, which allows for an equal exchange of kilowatt-hour credit accrual with Emera Maine, solar means long-term locked-in energy savings with an average return on investment of seven to 10 percent.

Additional benefits apply to third party investors for systems installed on municipal or nonprofit properties. Businesses also may qualify for USDA Rural Energy for America Program grants for projects up to $80,000.

Visit www.solarizemdi.org or call 589-4171.

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