Solarize Philly program offers solar options for homeowners

Going solar can lower the monthly electricity bill and pay for itself in eight to 10 years.

A representative from Solarize Philly held a meeting at the Bustleton Library Aug. 8 to discuss options for going solar.

Approximately 15 residents attended the meeting and asked questions about solar panels, a technology that converts sunlight into electricity that representatives said helps lower the monthly electricity bill.

Solarize Philly, owned by Philadelphia Energy Authority, is a citywide group-buying program that intends to make the process of installing solar panels simple and affordable. Ben Vila, a project coordinator for PEA, said going solar saves money, acts against climate change and has high local job impact.

Solarize Philly said going solar typically pays for itself in eight to 10 years and lasts 25 to 30 years, while the monthly cost of financing can be equal to or less than the original electricity bill.

Vila described the solar panels as “mini power plants” installed on the roof. They flow power through a convertor and into the house to any device being used. If the panels produce more electricity than needed on a sunny day, PECO will credit extra power that can be used at night or on a cloudy day.

Vila said most people pay for the panels with home equity loans or solar loans through the installer, but they can be paid for in cash by those who have it.

Installers from Solarize Philly provide free quotes specific to each home that will likely range between $10,000 and $20,000. Vila said the lower end can dip down to $8,000. Buyers can get 30 percent of their investment back through federal Investment Tax Credit through 2019.

Solarize Philly is running a financing pilot program for low- and moderate-income households. It requires zero money down and would be structured to reduce the electricity bill by at least 20 percent for a 15-year term.

To sign up for Solarize Philly or for the pilot program, go to SolarizePhilly.org and fill out the questionnaire it will send you. Customers will then be referred to one of the program’s pre-approved installers.

PEA was created in 2016 by City Council to promote sustainability, clean energy projects and efficiency throughout the city. ••