michigan solar initiatives

From today’s Great Lakes IT Report:

Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association is bringing its successful Go Solar program to Oakland County.

GLREA’s Go Solar Michigan program is an aggregate purchasing program that reduces the cost of solar energy systems. It enables participants to work with a single installer and participate in a bulk purchase of solar energy systems. The program has already seen three successful years in Ann Arbor, and two successful years in Grand Rapids.

Program options include a solar domestic hot water system or a one-kilowatt photovoltaic solar electric system or both.

The bulk purchasing method results in lower material costs for the contractor who is able to pass savings along to the homeowner. In addition, the systems in the Go Solar program are standardized. Therefore, as the contractor continues installing identical systems, they are able to reduce labor costs. All of this translates into savings for the homeowner.

During 2007, federal tax credits are available to homeowners installing solar electric and solar water heating systems. In addition to savings, program participants get the satisfaction of working with a local business. Tony D’Alecy of Renewable Energy Solutions LLC is the contractor for the program…

I’m curious to know the scale of the GLREA operation in Ann Arbor. Does anyone in the MM.com audience know? I can find several mentions online stating that the Go Solar initiative has been “successful” in Ann Arbor, but I can’t seem to find any numbers to back that up. I’d like to know how many systems were put in place through the program over these past three years, how much these systems are costing home owners, and how much energy they’ve been producing on average. I’d also like to know whether or not homeowners in Ypsilanti have been able to participate in this aggregate purchasing program… Oh, yeah, and I’d also like to know how much below retail we’re talking about. Are homeowners working through this program saving 20% on complete, installed solutions? More? Less?

And, as long as we’re talking solar, I thought that now might be a good time for an update on Murph’s Solar City Hall pledge drive. As of today, 71 people have agreed to chip in $50 each to turn our City Hall solar. All we need are another 129 and we can begin work…. If you haven’t signed on yet, please consider doing so. $50 is a small price to pay when you consider the positive press and the feeling of community pride that such an undertaking would bring about.

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5 Comments

  1. Ol' E Cross
    Posted September 10, 2007 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    While I do, honestly, understand the value of “positive press” and “community pride,” at some point, I think we have to be willing to declare that even though something costs more (i.e., doesn’t neatly equate to immediate dollars saved) it’s the right thing do.

    The conversation on solar city hall has been shifted (prior to MM) to good PR. I’m not willing to donate to PR.

    I am willing to donate to, “even though this will cost us more, our planet is approaching crisis, and we should be willing to pay to alleviate it.”

    I’m old-fashioned. A curmudgeon. If I’m alone, best wishes to the PR campaign. But, I’ll sooner contribute blood and bullion to what’s morally compelling and fiscally stupid than to superficial symbols.

    At some point, we have to turn the conversation away from financial cost/benefit analysis or the dollar value will really become our highest moral value. (E.g., the war in Iraq may prove to be cost-effective for the U.S. if it stabalizes the cost of oil.)

    Who cares if a solar city gets media coverage? Who cares if it saves us dollar-for-dollar? Does it, in a small way, make our world better? Shouldn’t the latter be question?

    (This post only refects OEC’s theological bent that you should pray/act/donate in a closet, not a press conference, please donate to the solar city, whatever your bent.)

  2. mark
    Posted September 10, 2007 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    Of course, I should have added moral to the list of reasons. I don’t disagree with you one bit. It’s the right thing to do, even if it doesn’t make immediate economic sense. Somewhere on this site, if you scroll back five years or so, I made a similar case about buying a hybrid. The decision was never going to make economic sense, and I knew it. I also knew, however, that unless some people came forward and bought them early on that the market would never change. I knew that the only way things would ever change is if the automakers knew there was a market, and I put my money where my mouth was. And, it’s the same thing here. If our City Hall goes solar, others will. And, the more that do, the more that the costs will drop… And one last thing, I don’t think publicity in this case is a bad thing. In this instance, my hope is that it might help bring alternative energy companies to Ypsilanti, creating jobs and helping to diversify our economy. I don’t see anything wrong with using the press to help us get the kind of community we desire. If we want a green Ypsilanti, I say we, the people of Ypsilanti, start reaching out and doing everything in our power to make that known, even if it requires smiling for a photo in USA Today.

  3. Posted September 11, 2007 at 12:14 am | Permalink

    I was a member of the GLREA for a year. They have operations centered around Diamondale (near Lansing). If I recall properly, sustainers include DTE and other major state energy players. I first bumped into them via the Washtenaw Builders Association Green Building Council, then again at an Earth Day festival in Kerrytown. From my experience they are not very active in this area in a grassroots sense, but still do good work. If you join you qualify for discounts on the DIY home energy classes they teach. http://www.glrea.org/

  4. Ol' E Cross
    Posted September 11, 2007 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    Mark, you just gave me the place to react to a larger social trend. I know you’re not (nor the originators) centrally interested in a solar city hall for PR. (Although, I do understand the value of setting an example, education, i.e., PR.)

    I’ve just read some things others have said about it, and I think that trying to justify moral good with economic good (e.g., “we’ll save money if we educate troubled youth vs. the cost of imprisonment” as opposed to “everyone has the right to a decent education, whatever the cost”) is a risky road to take.

    And, most likely, I reacted because I’m teetering on a personally financially stupid decision that I’ve assigned parental morality to. And, I’d been drinking.

  5. egpenet
    Posted September 11, 2007 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    Prosperity has always been judged by people as a divine “blessing” and suffering a curse from the same source. At least, that how most folks “with religion” see it. This especially applies to the Calvinists, Bob Jonsers and Mitt Romney’s bunch.

    Scientists, especially the post-Darwin types, simply view successes and/or failures in life as hard work/laziness, good luck/bad luck, respectively. This is the Christopher Hitchins and Freud.

    Those of us scattered elsewheree on the bell curve subscribe to the lyrics of that song, “if I didn’t have bad luck, I’d have no luck at all”… which is a song Shopenhauer would have thoroughly enjoyed, if he ever enjoyed anything at all (poor slob).

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