Solarize Harrisonburg builds on success to start new group

By Brandon Walton on May 20, 2015
One of 67 solar installations to be completed for Solarize Harrisonburg.

More than 70 Solarize Harrisonburg members gathered last week at Clementine Restaurant in downtown Harrisonburg to celebrate the near completion of Solarize Harrisonburg. Co-op members received awards for their contributions to the group and Town of Harrisonburg was recognized as an official “Solar Town”. The group is helping 67 Harrisonburg residents go solar. The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV) organized Solarize Harrisonburg. It partnered with VA SUN to learn about solar, host information meetings, and solicit bids from local installers. The group’s record-breaking number of sign ups encouraged the launch of a second effort later this year.

Solarize Harrisonburg members celebrate group’s success.

“The community response for solar was overwhelming,” said Solarize Harrisonburg member Adrie Voors. “We look forward to continuing this momentum in round two.”

Solarize Harrisonburg members were able to leverage their collective buying power to go solar together at dramatically reduced costs. Area installer Sigora Solar is performing the installations. Group members selected the company through a competitive bidding process.

“Solarize Harrisonburg has proven the power of a community that recognizes the value of solar energy and bands together to achieve great things,” said Jeff Nicholson of Sigora Solar. “The Harrisonburg co-op has included the most informed and inspired customers Sigora has ever had and we’re proud to help them save money with solar energy.”

The group formed in June of last year. More than 200 community members signed up for the group. Of this initial group, 67 Solarize Harrisonburg members are going solar. This makes Solarize Harrisonburg the largest of nearly three-dozen solar groups VA SUN and its associated Community Power Network programs in D.C., Maryland and West Virginia, have completed. When complete, Solarize Harrisonburg installations will account for approximately 335 kW of solar capacity and will net approximately $1 million dollars in retail solar sales for a local solar company.

“Solarize Harrisonburg beat our grandest expectations for sign ups because of the hard work of our community partners,” said Aaron Sutch, Program Director for VA SUN. “The group’s success is a testament to the diligent efforts of our partner Joy Loving and CAAV, and the eagerness of folks across Virginia to put solar on their homes.”

VA SUN is seeking local residents to help recruit members to join the second round of the co-op effort, scheduled to launch in August. The group is expected to span from Harrisonburg to include Shenandoah and Page Counties. Those interested can visit the co-op website to learn more.

CAAV worked with VA SUN to recruit members to join the solar co-op. Once the group hit a minimum number of sign ups, the group issued a request from proposals from solar installers. Installers submitted bids with a fixed price for all co-op members. VA SUN helped the group select a single installer from these proposals.

The group’s selected installer, Sigora Solar, then prepared individualized proposals for each Solarize Harrisonburg member based upon the fixed price from their selected proposal. Group members were then able to decide if they wanted to go solar based upon their individualized bid from the installer.